Mel Simon Gymnasium dedication
March 1, 2011
Lawrence, Ind - The YMCA proudly named the basketball gymnasium at the Benjamin Harrison Y after Mel Simon during a ceremony held at the facility. The event was emceed by Pacers Vice President of Communications Quinn Buckner and featured dedications from Mel's brother Herb Simon and Pacers President Jim Morris, among others.
A native of the Bronx, New York, Mel moved to Indianapolis in 1954 to serve in the US Army at Fort Benjamin Harrison. He spent countless hours playing basketball in the gymnasium throughout his time at the Fort. During today's dedication ceremony, members of Mel's family were given pieces of the original gym floor where he played.
After the ceremony, Boomer, the Pacers mascot, and local kids played basketball in the Mel Simon Gymnasium while family, friends and invited guests cheerfully watched.
"This is the place where his dreams started," said Herb Simon. "Here is where he kept saying (to me), 'Come on out here. This is the land of opportunity.' And how right he was."
Upon his discharge from the Army, Mel worked as a leasing representative with the Albert Frankel Company, an Indianapolis developer of community shopping centers. In 1960, sensing the vast potential in this industry, Mel, joined by his brothers Herb and Fred, created Melvin Simon & Associates, who quickly became known for their willingness to do business on a handshake.
Mel's love of sports culminated in the purchase of the Pacers in 1983, along with his brother, Herb. The two brothers turned the franchise into one of the most respected in professional sports.
On September 16, 2009, Mel passed away at the age of 82 after a short illness. Though gone, Mel's memory will continue to impact the community like it did today at the Benjamin Harrison Y.