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The Journal Gazette

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Jamil Wilson of the Mad Ants, right, stuffs Thomas Wimbush of Long Island at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday night. The Mad Ants are negotiating a new lease to play at the Coliseum next season.

Thursday, February 08, 2018 1:00 am

Mad Ants, Coliseum talk about new lease

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Fans of the Mad Ants can rest a little easier. It seems they will be playing basketball at Memorial Coliseum next season and, possibly, beyond.

Team President Tim Bawmann and Coliseum general manager Randy Brown confirmed to The Journal Gazette that negotiations have begun on a new lease.

It's the most positive sign on the future of the team in Fort Wayne since Mayor Tom Henry's Nov. 17 announcement that plans for a new downtown arena, in which the Mad Ants would have been a tenant, had been shelved.

Since then, the NBA's Indiana Pacers, who own and operate the Mad Ants, have declined all requests for comment on the future of the G League team that they bought in 2015 from a local ownership group.

Bawmann declined Wednesday to elaborate on the lease negotiations, but Brown said: “Absolutely, this is positive. Any time you have a dialogue, that's a positive step, and I'm optimistic that the Mad Ants will be playing at the Coliseum for years to come.”

The Mad Ants' current lease, titled a “license agreement,” was obtained by The Journal Gazette through the Freedom of Information Act and shows it was signed Sept. 29, 2016, and expires July 31.

Brown said it's premature to speculate on terms of a potential new deal.

“(We're) not yet at the point of talking about terms,” he said, noting that the Komets recently signed a four-year lease and IPFW basketball's lease is for two years.

On the court, the Mad Ants lost 118-102 to the Greensboro Swarm in front of 1,063 fans at The Fieldhouse on Wednesday at Greensboro, North Carolina. DeQuan Jones scored 29 points and Walt Lemon Jr. added 24.

Damien Wilkins, who played for the Pacers this season, had 20 points to lead the Swarm (11-22). Mangok Mathiang, Terry Henderson and Marcus Paige scored 18 points apiece for Greensboro, which had a 38-29 third-quarter run to go up 91-75.

Jarrod Uthoff had 12 points and seven rebounds for the Mad Ants (20-15). Trey McKinnney Jones and Edmond Sumner had 10 points apiece.

The Mad Ants play at the Maine Red Claws at 7 p.m. Saturday.