Attendance at the Indiana Pacers game on Tuesday night against the Utah Jazz was disappointing at first blush. The chunks of empty green seats in the lower and club levels was surprising considering the Pacers' positive start and the fact that former Butler star Gordon Hayward was playing for Utah.
In reality, though it was really the last night of good excuses for fans to stay home. The 10-day Super Bowl festivities was a grind on the community with much of the ticket-buying public involved in events as attendees, employees or volunteers. I was worn out and I only volunteered a few shifts and took in the fun on a couple of other days. I spoke with a few media members who covered the Super Bowl and they were near catatonic after two weeks of 13-14 hour work days. In essence, the sporting public was still trying to recover.
It appears that there were plenty of Pacers fans in recovery mode, though since the Fox Sports Indiana television rating for Tuesday's game was strong, registering a season-high 3.7 rating, according to FSI. Through Tuesday's game, ratings for Pacers games on FSI are up 26% compared to the same date last season which is more impressive when you consider that last season the ratings were up 35% over the prior season.
Also, the 3.7 rating on Tuesday was the eight game with a 3.0 or higher rating so far this season which has already surpassed last season's total of seven games. So the television numbers continue to improve after a strong showing last year.
Now the Pacers need to move the rear-ends attached to all of those eyeballs into those empty green seats at the Fieldhouse. With the local distractions out of the way, the upcoming schedule should help build up some attendance momentum. The Pacers play the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night with their next home game on Tuesday night against the Miami Heat. Weekend crowds are always better and the Heat will draw a crowd regardless of the day of the week.
Starting next Thursday the Pacers play three straight games at home in six days against New Jersey, Charlotte and New Orleans. Pretty safe to say, those three games will give a strong indication of how many people are going to the Fieldhouse to watch the Pacers. No more excuses.