Most national NBA experts don't have a positive outlook for the 2009-10 Pacers on the court, but locally the perception of the organization and players has apparently taken a drastic turn in a positive direction after bottoming out two years ago. This bit of good news comes from pollster Frank Luntz who has been consulting the Pacers and surveying fans for the past four years. Luntz is in town to release his latest survey results and spoke with Gerry Dick from Inside Indiana Business for an interview set to air on Sunday's show. A clip from the show is available on the website which I transcribed below.
Gerry Dick: I think it's interesting though to go back to when you started doing these surveys for the team and the community when things were tough for the Pacers and folks weren't real happy. How bad did it get?
Frank Luntz: It was awful, and I've done a lot of work in baseball, football as well as basketball, and I've done work all over the country. I've never seen a market like Indiana, they take their basketball seriously. Now the business community, they never abandoned the team. The people who did, were the moms because they wanted the players to be people that their kids could look up to, role models. What's different about Indiana than any other place is that they're sophisticated about their sports and about their basketball. You cut them and they bleed basketball. Most fans like the slam dunk, that's the play they really enjoy. Not Indiana. For them, it's the blocked shot and the steal. They want to hear the sounds of the game, they want to hear the players talking to each other. They get into everything. Two years ago, which was our second survey, two years ago almost to this day the fans had said I've had enough and they were telling us that they weren't going to come back.
Gerry Dick: Fast forward to today and this most recent survey, how dramatic has the shift been?
Frank Luntz: How about, I've never seen this ever in professional sports. I've never seen a fanbase turnaround and say, you know what, you made us a promise. In fact, we even asked that question: Did the team keep its promise to clean up its act (we used that phrase) on the court and off the court? And almost 90% said yes and nobody keeps their promises any more. We are a show me society and we are a group of skeptics and cynics. Not the Pacers. And in fact, I told them that ticket sales are going to increase because of it.