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Ultimate bang for the buck

The Indiana Pacers are a team that's learned what fans want -- great value. Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Images

JUST ONE TEAM in all of sports offers better value than the Grizzlies: the Indiana Pacers. And it's been a long road to get there. During the 2011 NBA playoffs, Pacers COO Rick Fuson -- irritated at seeing so many Bulls fans at the then-Conseco Fieldhouse -- told reporters, "I hope Indiana learns." Actually, it's the team that has learned. After years of on-court mediocrity and off-court brawls, the Pacers are doing what it takes to win over fans. In February 2009, during the depths of the recession, Indiana slashed average ticket prices by 27 percent. Each season since then, the Pacers have added likable players, won more games and advanced further in the playoffs, all while holding ticket prices virtually steady. As a result, Indiana has climbed from No. 70 to No. 1 in our bang for the buck rankings. (Not coincidentally, the Pacers' home attendance, once the lowest in the NBA, has jumped 25 percent.)

How affordable are we talking? Check the couch for spare change. The Pacers are one of just two teams in the four major sports to sell tickets for $5 (Memphis is the other). On Wednesday nights, college students can get into the Fieldhouse for $10. And on Pacers family nights, a family of four can get tickets, T-shirts, hot dogs, chips and sodas -- and bring another family of four! -- for less than the average price of one Knicks ticket ($120 versus $123.22). Oh yeah, and they'll see a better team.

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The Indiana Pacers are a team that's learned what fans want -- great value. Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Images

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