The Pacers were one of four ABAteams that joined the NBA in the ABA-NBA merger in 1976. For the 1976–77 season the Pacers were joined in the merged league by the New York Nets, Denver Nuggets and San Antonio Spurs of the ABA. Financially, the Pacers were by far the weakest of the four ABArefugees. hats for saleIndeed, they were on far weaker financial footing than the team acknowledged to be the lastABA team left out of the expansion, the Kentucky Colonels. However, the Colonels were shut out because the Chicago Bulls owned the NBA rights to the Colonels’ best player, Artis Gilmore, and wouldn’t have allowed the merger to go through unless the Colonels were left out.
The Pacers’ financial troubles dated back to their waning days in the ABA; they already begun selling off some of their star players in the last ABAseason. They were further weakened by the price required to join the NBA. sports jerseysThe league charged a $3.2 million dollar entry fee to each formerABA team. Because the NBA would only agree to accept fourABA teams in the ABA-NBA merger, the Pacers and the three other survivingABA teams also had to compensate the two remainingABA franchises which were not a part of the merger. The new NBA teams also were barred from sharing in national TV revenues for four years.
As a result of the steep price they paid to join the NBA, the Pacers were in a dire financial situation. It took a $100,000 contribution from a group of local businesses to keep the franchise going through June 1977. The team announced that unless season-ticket sales reached 8,000 by the end of July 1977, the club would be sold to someone who might take the franchise elsewhere. WTTV, which was the television flagship for Pacers’ games at the time, offered to hold a 16.5 hour telethon to keep the team in Indiana. Monster Energy HatsThe telethon began on the night of July 3, 1977, and the next day, 10 minutes before the show was set to go off the air, it was announced that team officials had reached the 8,000-ticket goal. In part because of the telethon, the Pacers’ average attendance jumped from 7,615 during the 1976–77 season to 10,982 during the 1977–78 season.