Indiana Pacers owners Sam Nassi and Frank Mariani have...

By CURTIS KRUEGER  |  April 16, 1983
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana Pacers owners Sam Nassi and Frank Mariani have received their first definite bidder for the NBA team, but the potential buyers will not make their price tag public.

Melvin Simon & Associates confirmed Friday it joined with a coalition of businesses and private groups to offer to buy the Pacers, raising hopes that the basketball team may stay in Indianapolis.

But Larry Conrad, a spokesman for Simon, said the offer would be jeoparidized if he made public the amount of the bid, or the names of other interests involved.

'We regret that we are unable to bring to the community a higher degree of hope today; however we will keep the community advised as to any progress that is accomplished,' Conrad said.

The offer was sent Thursday to Nassi and Mariani.

Simon also was bidding to take over the lease of Market Square Arena, the 16,000-seat home of the Pacers. The arena is owned by IF Ltd., a partnership of Nassi and Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss.

Nassi, who was not present at the Friday news conference, said he wanted to sell the Pacers before the NBA draft in June.

Nassi and Mariana reportedly have asked potential buyers for $4 million, plus assumption of $6.5 million in debts, for the 16-year-old Pacer franchise.

Conrad said the unspecified offer from Herb and Melvin Simon, two of Indianapolis' wealthiest businessmen, would likely involve lengthy negotiations.

'I would not say it's a take-it-or-leave-it offer,' Conrad said. 'It is not my opinion that this offer is one that's unreasonable.'

The current owners have not responded to the offer, Conrad said.

The Pacers sale has attracted the interest of out-of state businessmen, but Conrad said he believed the Simon bid was the first definite offer.

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