The Indiana Pacers are making some serious strides to improve even before the start of the NBA season. As the team gets ready to host its first exhibition game Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, ticket sales are way up compared to last year.
The team has gone from unknown to well-known. Players are household names: Hibbert, George, Granger, Hill, West. And people want to seem them. Group ticket sales are up 30 percent compared to this time last year.
It was last year when fans really started coming back to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in large numbers. In fact, six Pacer games sold out - something the team hadn't seen in years. This season, they want to double that number, selling out a dozen games or more.
If the Pacers continue winning games on the court and the hearts of fans off the court, selling out games, team officials say, shouldn't be a problem.
"Really, how the team finished last year, I think people feel much more connected to our players," said Todd Taylor, who works for the Pacers in marketing and sales. "I think they understand that they're good guys, they can really play this game, they play with a great team style and they match Indiana pretty well."
Taylor thinks that's why the fans have come out.
The Pacers had a great season in 2011-2012, making it to the playoffs and wowing fans. Six home games sold out last season - something the team hadn't seen in years. They hope to double that number of sellouts this year.
And in addition to players, the organization has another tool to win over fans - a monster of a scoreboard. It's 50 feet long and displays in high definition.
Along with a new sound system, the team invested $16.5 million dollars into this gigantic screen that will show stats, instant replays, and all kinds of video to entertain.
"This really takes the experience you have at your finest HD theater, sound system and image from the 1080p, and puts it in a live sporting event," Taylor explained. "So you really get the best of both worlds."
The Pacers think it's going to be a tremendous impact, not only for the game action, but also just the entertainment in between the action.
At tonight's game, they'll be using a small portion of that new scoreboard, but the true unveiling will be opening night on November 3rd.
Tickets to tonight's game against Minnesota are still available. And those blocks of tickets they're selling are for a six game package that starts at $78, and that includes opening night.