Pacers still unsettled at Conseco

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Pacers still are renegotiating the team's lease of Conseco Fieldhouse with a Wednesday deadline approaching.

"Still talking, but no deal yet," Ann Lathrop, president of the Marion County Capital Improvement Board, wrote in a text message on Monday.

The CIB owns Conseco Fieldhouse, where the Pacers play home games and have been paying $15 million per year in operating costs. The team is approaching an option period in the lease, and the CIB has said the team could move, be sold or shut down if a resolution isn't reached.

Lathrop has said one option is a deal in which the CIB would pay operating costs and still let the Pacers play there. She was optimistic in May, but sticking points include the length of the lease, who runs the building and where non-Pacers revenue would go.

"Negotiations, contracts and deals at this level are clearly tough stuff," Lathrop said last week. "It never surfaces around just one deal point. There's multiple things that we have that we're working on."

Pacers Sports and Entertainment president Jim Morris has declined to comment on the negotiations.

Team president of basketball operations Larry Bird has said he has received calls from people who want to move the team, though team owner Herb Simon has maintained that he wants the team to remain in Indiana.

The Pacers already were losing money when they were successful, and poor performance hasn't helped. Indiana finished with a 32-50 record last season, their worst record since 1988-89, and missed the playoffs for the fourth straight year. The Pacers ranked 27th in the 30-team league this season with average attendance of 14,202.

A study in May concluded that Indianapolis businesses would lose $55 million if the Indiana Pacers left town. Lathrop was hopeful that a solution was forthcoming.

"I think it's always a positive sign when people continue to talk," she said. "I don't know that I'm more or less confident than I was a month ago. I know that we're just as dedicated to finding a solution than we were at that time."

Lathrop said it's in the city's best interests to have the Pacers and the WNBA's Indiana Fever play at Conseco.

"It is always our preference to have a marquee tenant in the building rather than trying to fill those 60-plus days on our own with other events," she said.