Todd Taylor, an expert in ticket sales, is the man in charge of putting fans in the seats at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
With experience across the pro sports spectrum, Taylor — senior vice president/chief sales and marketing officer for the Indiana Pacers — insists sound strategy is essential to filling arenas.
As evidenced by a rising fieldhouse attendance tide, Taylor and his staff have hit upon a can’t-miss strategy: They are hawking a winning team. Not just a winning team, but one that, by all outward appearances, is a viable contender for the NBA championship.
“We joke here in sales and marketing that we get a little smarter with every win, so these guys are making us geniuses,” said Taylor, who’s in his third year with the Pacers. “The way I sort of look at it from my seat is, when things are going really, really, really well, we try and take advantage of it the best we can.
“And when things aren’t going so well, we try to make sure it doesn’t negatively impact the business.”
Few franchises in recent history have experienced the positive and negative pendulum swings, as have the Pacers, who are — for the first time in a decade — on an attendance upswing.
Less than four years removed from ranking dead last in NBA attendance, residual fallout from the 2004 Brawl in Detroit, the Pacers are nearing the middle of the 30-team pack.
As of games played through Dec. 16, Indiana ranked 18th in the league with a home-crowd average of 16,645 in the 18,165-seat fieldhouse. Six of the first 12 home games were sellouts. During that 12-game stretch, the fieldhouse was, on average, 91.6 full, a dramatic turnaround from the previous season, when attendance improved slightly but sellouts were rare.
The Pacers’ game Friday against Houston also was a sellout.
“To put that in perspective, it took us 30 games last year to record our fifth sellout,” Taylor said. “It took us 34 games to get our sixth.”
Barring a dramatic shift in team fortunes or fans’ affection for the product, the Pacers will enjoy their best home attendance since the 2004-05 season, when they had 15 sellouts and ranked 17th in the NBA with an average crowd of 16,994.
Although any number of factors, ranging from the popularity of opponents to the time of year to the number of home games crammed in a single week, impact attendance, Taylor attributes the sunny outlook to two primary sources: Winning, and winning with players fans embrace.