This story is part of Indianapolis Monthly’s 2016 Indiana Bicentennial coverage, which includes our list of the 200 Hoosier Hall of Fame picks, designated throughout in bold or highlighted. For more on this celebration of the state’s first two centuries, click here.
U.S. Army transfers Melvin “Mel” Simon to Fort Benjamin Harrison
The son of an immigrant who grew up in the Bronx, Simon sells encyclopedias door to door to make extra money in Indy, where he remains after his discharge.
Establishment of Melvin Simon & Associates
Simon sees the potential in commercial real estate while working as a leasing agent with an Indy company that manages strip malls. His brother Herbert “Herb” Simon, who followed Mel here, partners in the business.
Simon & Associates owns more than 3 million square feet of retail property around the U.S.
Breaking with its mostly suburban business model, Simon & Associates presents plans for a shopping mall in the heart of downtown Indy
The Simons purchase the Indiana Pacers
The franchise was previously in such dire straits that it took a telethon to save the team from folding.
The Pacers draft a skinny shooting guard from UCLA named Reggie Miller
Indiana fans attending the draft boo the selection, disappointed that IU star Steve Alford was passed over.
The Pacers face “Hicks vs. Knicks” rival New York five times in the NBA playoffs
Highlights: Miller scoring 8 points in 8.9 seconds at the end of a come-from-behind win in the 1995 Eastern Conference Finals. Miller trash-talking with director and Knicks fan Spike Lee. Miller throwing Lee a choke sign while dropping 39 on the Knicks in game five of the 1994 Conference Finals.
Simon & Associates goes public as Simon Property Group with a $1 billion IPO
After several mergers, Simon Property becomes the largest mall operator in the United States.
Circle Centre completed
The first major piece in a decades-long building boom, the mall helps transform Indy’s downtown from sleepy business district to thriving entertainment and lifestyle magnet.
Larry Bird comes back to Indiana to coach the Pacers
After spending his entire NBA career in Boston, Larry Legend returning home for his first-ever coaching job is a major coup for the Pacers; Indianapolis bleeds blue and gold (Peyton, who?).
Conseco (now Bankers Life) Fieldhouse completed in downtown Indianapolis
The venue routinely ranks at or near the top of lists of the NBA’s best.
Pacers reach the NBA finals
The team becomes the first Indianapolis franchise to compete for a championship in a major professional sports league.
Mel Simon dies at age 82
The previous year, Forbes had him ranked as the 147th-richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of $2.8 billion. By then, his son, David, had become CEO of Simon Property.
Simon Property Group becomes largest real-estate investment trust in the world and claims the company is worth $85 billion