Fever will return in 2010

By David Woods
Updated: October 17, 2009

INDIANA — They didn’t win a championship, but they won a reprieve.

The Indiana Fever, who reached the WNBA Finals for the first time, will return for another summer. The announcement was made Tuesday on the team’s Web site, feverbasketball.com.

That ended speculation that owner Herb Simon would shut down the team because of financial losses.

In a letter signed by Simon, Pacers Sports & Entertainment president Jim Morris and Fever chief operating officer Kelly Krauskopf, the Fever thanked fans for their support.

“We are committed to the future success of this franchise in Indianapolis,” the letter read. “We look forward to another great season in 2010 and for many years to come.”

The Fever had their best regular-season record (22-12) and lost to the Phoenix Mercury 3-2 in the WNBA Finals. The Mercury won the clinching game 94-86 last Friday at Phoenix.

Fever attendance averaged 7,939, sixth in the 13-team league and about a 3 percent increase over last year. However, the team announced three sellouts of 18,165-seat Conseco Fieldhouse during the playoffs. The letter noted the Fever set a league record for average playoff attendance.

In the first sellout, Pacers president Larry Bird purchased all balcony seats for free distribution. Not all were used, but about 15,000 showed up to watch the Fever beat defending champion Detroit to reach the Finals.

“I can’t say enough about the support that we’ve gotten from the community over the last couple of weeks,” coach Lin Dunn said during the Fever’s playoff run.

Fever players said all season that they weren’t thinking about the possibility of folding. But they were clearly heartened by recent turnouts. It was especially gratifying to Indianapolis native Katie Douglas, who in 2008 was traded by the Connecticut Sun to her hometown team.

“I felt like we could do some special things, especially this year,” she said during the playoffs. The crowd for the clinching victory over Detroit “was just unbelievable,” Douglas said.

The Fever have a strong nucleus in a bid for their first championship. Besides 30-year-old veterans such as Douglas and Tamika Catchings, they have rising stars in Ebony Hoffman, 27, and Briann January, 22.