Pacers Sports & Entertainment, the parent organization of the Indiana Pacers, has acquired the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the National Basketball Association’s Development League, it was announced today.
With the acquisition, the Mad Ants become the 10th D-League team to be wholly owned by an NBA franchise and now all 19 D-League teams are singly-affiliated with NBA franchises.
“We are proud to extend the Pacers brand into Northeast Indiana and excited about continuing the tradition of professional basketball in Fort Wayne,” said Pacers Sports & Entertainment owner Herb Simon. “We will work closely with the Mad Ants staff to provide support and expertise on both the business and basketball sides and we hope to build on their enthusiastic fan base.”
The Mad Ants were previously owned by the Fort Wayne Basketball Group, LLC, which was led by majority investors John Zeglis, Julie Potter, and Jeff Potter. Jeff Potter, former president of the Mad Ants, will continue with the team as its president of business operations.
“The last eight years with the Mad Ants have brought our investors tremendous joy and a whole lot of fun,” said Jeff Potter. “Our goal in starting the Ants was to bring Fort Wayne something fun and exciting for families and basketball fans to enjoy, and we are so thankful to the city and our fans for how they received us and supported us. Although our run with the team is ending, we are so pleased to see our team placed in such great hands, and we wish the Pacers nothing but the best as they move forward with the Mad Ants.
The Pacers also announced that Brian Levy will become the Mad Ants General Manager. Levy had previously been the assistant general manager of the Phoenix Suns’ D-League team in Bakersfield, Calif.
The coaching staff of the Mad Ants has yet to be named.
The Mad Ants, champions of the D-League in 2014 and runners-up this past spring, will continue to play their 24 home games in Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. This will be their ninth season in the D-League.
“Indiana’s purchase of the Mad Ants signals an important milestone for the NBA D-League, as all 19 of the league’s teams are now owned by, or in hybrid partnerships with, their NBA parent clubs,” said Malcolm Turner, NBA D-League President. “I’m excited to welcome Herb Simon and the Pacers front office into the NBA D-League family, and extend my thanks to outgoing Mad Ants owners John Zeglis and Jeff Potter, whose commitment to excellence on and off the court helped shape the NBA D-League.”
The Pacers have assigned players to the Mad Ants since their inaugural season. This past year, center-forward Shayne Whittington had two separate stints with the Mad Ants.
“Owning the Mad Ants will be an integral part to the development of our young talent and we’ll have the ability to institute the same offensive and defensive systems and create a winning basketball culture across the state of Indiana,” said Pacers Basketball President Larry Bird. “We are excited to build on the team’s success in Fort Wayne while using it as a training ground for players, coaches and front office personnel.”
“We continue to see momentum and investments in Fort Wayne as we work together to move our community forward in a positive direction,” said Mayor Tom Henry. “We’re honored to have a new partnership with the Indiana Pacers, and we welcome them to our City. We’re a leader in providing tremendous minor league sports opportunities for residents and visitors to enjoy. Thank you to the Mad Ants for being an important part of the success we’re experiencing in Fort Wayne. I’m encouraged by what this new relationship will mean to our community, state, and region as we build on being a nationally recognized city for job and business growth and quality of life amenities.”