INDIANAPOLIS LOOKING AT DIFFERENT ARENA MANAGER: City officials are looking into whether it would be more financially beneficial to hire an outside company to run Bankers Life Fieldhouse downtown where the Pacers play instead of allowing the NBA team to do so.
"We're going to look at taking it over to see if it makes more sense for us," Mayor Greg Ballard tells the Indianapolis Business Journal.
The Pacers have been running the 18,165-seat basketball arena since it opened in 1999, and the city recently agreed to pay $10 million to help Pacers Sports & Entertainment run the venue for another year. Experts differ on whether it's a good deal for the city.
Andrew Zimbalist, a Smith College professor who studies sports economics, said the Pacers are getting a "spectacularly generous" deal in keeping all revenue, paying no long-term expenses and getting another $10 million. He said the city should be able to do better.
But Mark Rosentraub, a University of Michigan sports management professor, said being the smallest market to host two major professional sports teams in a venue that competes with more modern facilities in other Midwestern cities could be a challenge.
HOUSTON FIRST-ROUND PICK REFUSES ASSIGNMENT: Rockets first-round pick Royce White has refused his assignment to Houston's D-League affiliate, yet another setback to his return to the court.
White, the 16th overall pick in the June draft, has spent most of the season on Houston's inactive list while he and the team figure out how to handle his anxiety disorder and overall mental health.
White's assignment to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers on Saturday looked to be a positive step in his return. But on Sunday, White released an almost 500-word statement where he says in part: "I have chosen to not play, because the doctors and I believe it to be unsafe for unqualified Rockets front office personnel to make medical decisions, as they are not mental health professionals."
NHL, UNION LIKELY TO RETURN TO TABLE TODAY: The NHL and the players' association are ready to get back to the bargaining table.
There were no formal negotiations Sunday, but all signs pointed to talks on Monday in an effort to end the lockout and save the season.
"There will be no further face-to-face meetings today," the union said in a statement Sunday. "The plan is for the sides to meet tomorrow."
Those would be the first negotiations since the sides met with a federal mediator Dec. 13.
The league and the union had informational discussions — by conference call and in meetings — with staff members that lasted much of Saturday and concluded Sunday. Those talks were spurred by the nearly 300-page contract proposal the NHL presented to the union Thursday.
All games through Jan. 14 have been canceled, claiming more than 50 percent of the original schedule. The NHL wants to reach a deal by Jan. 11 and open the season Jan. 19, with a 48-game schedule.
INDIANA ST. TOPS ILLINOIS ST.: Justin Gant had 18 points and 11 rebounds Sunday and Indiana State defeated Illinois State 77-75 in the Missouri Valley Conference opener for both teams.
Jake Odum had 17 points and six assists for the Sycamores (8-4), who were coming off a third-place finish in the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu. Odum hit the game-winning basket in overtime against Miami in the consolation game.
Devonte Brown added 12 points and Manny Arop scored 10 for Indiana State.
Jon Ekey led Illinois State (9-4) with 16 points. Jackie Carmichael had 13 points and 14 rebounds for the Redbirds, whose four-game winning streak ended. A last-second 3-point try by Illinois State's Nick Zeisloft missed.
DUKE ROUTS MONMOUTH IN RECORD GAME: Tricia Liston scored 15 points for No. 4 Duke, and Monmouth tied a Division I record with three points in the first half of a 73-32 rout Sunday.
The overmatched Hawks managed just one field goal in the opening 20 minutes against the Blue Devils (11-0).
Monmouth (3-8) matched the NCAA's halftime scoring mark set in 2003 by Savannah State against Florida State and equaled by Tennessee State two years ago against Georgia Tech.
AMERICAN LEGION TOURNEY AT PLAZA: The First District American Legion will host its fourth annual bowling tournament Jan. 21 and 22 at Plaza Lanes. The handicap tourney is open to First District Legion and SAL members with a 2013 membership card. Deadline for entries is Monday. For details, call Larry Horvath at (219) 365-3635 or Joe Rivich at (219) 398-2528.