City cashing in on Pacers playoff success

The Pacers generate $1 million for the city's economy every time they host a playoff game.

There is a reason teams want to make the playoffs. They want to win a championship and reap the spoils that go along with that, but surprisingly that may not be where the money really is.

It might seem like a little rain is falling on the Pacers parade these days, but you could argue the glare of the television lights on the city has been nothing but golden. It comes at a good time for both. The Capital Improvement Board just extended the Pacers' contract for another year, including a $10 million loan to cover Bankers Life Fieldhouse operations through June 2014.

There is good reason for that.

Every time the Pacers host a playoff game it translates into a injection of $1 million into the city's economy.

"We have had eight playoff games here at home, ninth game is coming up. Compared to 41 regular season, it is a nice increase," said Scott Gould, vice president of operations for Denison's, who manages parking downtown.

The increase means an additional 2,000-3,000 cars parking in Denison's 25,000 downtown parking stalls. It also means a big economic shot in the arm at Harry and Izzy's downtown.

"It's a 20 percent increase in NBA-related revenue. The city's on fire," said Jeff Smith at Harry and Izzy's.

So what does it mean to the Pacers?

Not as much as you might think. The home team has to share 50 percent of the gate receipts with the NBA. The lone exception to that will be the seventh game of the Eastern Conference finals. The Heat will have to cut the Pacers in for a three-way split, with the league still taking 50 percent off the top.

The host team does get the benefit of increased concession sales, which amounts a net profit of 50 percent, but if you think the Pacers get more television money the longer they play, you would be mistaken. That is a pre-packaged deal that is negotiated by the league.

The best way the team can cash in is to build on this year's success at the box office next year, while the city basks in the afterglow.

"This incredible national media buzz, where all eyes are on Indy and our Pacers," said Chris Gahl, vice president of the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association.

That will help the city market itself in the future.