ANGOLA – Mad Ants President Tim Bawmann is so sure this is going to work – that the logistics, attendance and atmosphere will be top-notch – that he's already planning a return trip to the MTI Center for the G League finals.
He just needs his team to make it there.
“We plan on making the championship (series) this season, and we would probably need to play that up here, so this gives us a chance to get used to the facility for when we come back in April to win the G League,” Bawmann said Thursday, after announcing the Mad Ants will play a Dec. 30 game at MTI Center, on the campus of Trine University, against the Greensboro Swarm.
The Mad Ants have never played a regular-season game away from Memorial Coliseum, though they played a preseason game in Winona Lake at Grace College in 2008.
The 3,500-seat MTI Center, which opened Jan. 3 at a cost of $13.7 million, is home to Trine's basketball, bowling and esports teams.
“I think the only thing this facility needs is an NBA (3-point) line on the court and we'll be ready to go,” said Mad Ants coach Steve Gansey, who got a tour of the amenities. “I already have an idea of showing guys film at halftime. That's something that we haven't really been able to do in previous years.”
The Mad Ants started evaluating other area facilities last spring, when the Komets' hockey playoff schedule was creating conflicts with their potential playoff dates. The Mad Ants lost to the Erie BayHawks in the single-elimination Eastern Conference semifinals but had they advanced to the G League finals, the MTI Center was the only facility they found that was to the NBA's standards for G League play.
The Mad Ants' two-year lease with the Coliseum, finalized early this month, allows for them to move two games off site, Bawmann said, and he would like to eventually look at getting a game to Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers, who own and operate the Mad Ants.
Season-ticket holders will have the game at the MTI Center – with a 5 p.m. start – included in their packages. Parking there will be free.
“Part of the season-ticket holder package is the game itself and we have some other perks that are part of the season-ticket holder packages,” Bawmann said. “The seats are not exactly like they are at the Coliseum, so we've got a game plan in place for all of our floor-seat holders. And then it's really a first-come, first-serve for all of the rest of our season-ticket holders, based on the availability of the seats up here. If we do have some folks who want to opt out, we do have some other perks and plans in place for them.”
Tickets for the game are available at ftwaynemadants.com or by calling 260-469-4667.
“Brand marketing is what the name of the game is, right? They're going to get the Mad Ants' brand in northern Indiana. I'm going to get the Trine brand into the Fort Wayne market a little bit. We'll extend both of our brands a little bit,” Trine athletic director Matt Land said.
Note: Trey McKinney Jones, a longtime Mad Ants player who made his NBA debut last season with the Pacers, will play in Japan with the Chiba Jets.