Blog Entry

Hornets officially on life support in New Orleans

Posted on: December 6, 2010 7:42 pm
If any entrepreneurs out there are in the market for a failing business that is going to shut down operations in a few months for a work stoppage, David Stern would like you to come forward with your best offer.

And if you'd like to keep the business in New Orleans, where things were so bad the previous owners ran out of money and credit operating it, all the better.

Oh, did we mention? Bidding starts at $300 million.

The future of the NBA in New Orleans, one of America's finest and star-crossed sports destinations, took a definite turn toward life support Monday when Stern announced that the league is stepping in to save the Hornets from themselves. The question now is: Who, if anyone, will come forward with the deep pockets and patience to keep the team in Louisiana?

The best way to answer that question is to ask yourself: If you had $300 million, is that how you would spend it?

Despite Stern's insistence Monday that the league stepping in to buy 100 percent of the Hornets from owners George Shinn and Gary Chouest was "the best opportunity for the franchise to remain in New Orleans for the long term," it's hard to see how the NBA gets from here to there.

"This was the most stabilizing force for the team in New Orleans that we could come up with," Stern said Monday.

In other words, this was the best of all available options -- especially if you consider that this was the only option.

Despite a compelling team with marketable superstar in Chris Paul who has orchestrated the best start in franchise history, the Hornets remain among the worst teams in the NBA in attendance. In fact, they are seriously in danger of triggering a clause that would allow the team to break its lease with the state if they fail to average 14,214 fans per game until Jan. 31. Even if that happens, a prospective buyer who wants to move the team presumably would still be faced with a relocation fee. That means the owner of the team -- the 29 other NBA teams -- would theoretically get less money in a sale to someone who wants to move it to Kansas City than from someone who wants to keep it in New Orleans.

But that's short-term math. And the long-term interests of the NBA are now more involved in the sale of the Hornets than ever before. Regardless of what changes are made to the league's revenue-sharing scheme in conjunction with a new collective bargaining agreement, it clearly is in nobody's interests to operate a team in a market where it is doomed to lose money forever.

That means there are three choices: 1) find someone (or a group of investors) in New Orleans who have so much money that they don't care about losing millions annually on a basketball team; 2) find international investors who, a la Mikhail Prokhorov, are willing to pay a premium for a piece of the American basketball business; or 3) find someone capable of moving the team somewhere else.

Option 2 would be fine, except remember: Prokhorov's purchase of the Nets was contingent on the move to Brooklyn being finalized. The Russian billionaire wanted no part of owning a team in East Rutherford or Newark. Though Stern said the protracted talks between Shinn and Chouest meant the Hornets were never thoroughly shopped to other potential owners in New Orleans, it tests the limits of credulity that another suitable New Orleans buyer is out there somewhere.

This point is proved by Stern's own statement Monday that it was "possible, if not likely" that the Hornets would've been sold to an owner who would've relocated them if not for the NBA stepping in. The test of the league's staying power in New Orleans begins in about a week, when the Board of Governors is expected to approve the NBA's bailout by an overwhelming margin.

"We're not in any hurry," Stern said.

Despite reports to the contrary, Stern said Chouest never raised the specter of a lockout among the reasons he decided not to go forward with purchasing Shinn's remaining 65 percent of the team. At this point, it hardly matters. The Hornets are the NBA's problem now, and Stern said it's likely that a sale won't be completed until a new CBA and revenue-sharing model are implemented.

In the meantime, everyone involved has good intentions and it's commendable to give this franchise the liquidity it needs to operate in New Orleans at least for the rest of this season. If a long-term solution can be achieved that keeps the team in Louisiana, that would be ideal. Then again, it would've been ideal to keep the SuperSonics in Seattle, too.

For a lesson in how money trumps idealism, look no farther than the Sonics' move from Seattle to Oklahoma City. According to NBA turnstile data, the Sonics brought in $457,863 in gate receipts per game in their last season in Seattle. In 2008-09, the Thunder's first year in Oklahoma City, that figure ballooned to $1,122,109. Since then, with support from the Oklahoma City business community and the inventive front-office maneuverings of GM Sam Presti, the Thunder have established themselves as a model organization -- thriving both on and off the court in a small market.

Here's hoping that two years from now, the same can be said for the Hornets. But it's difficult to see how the NBA gets from here to there in New Orleans.

Since: Sep 25, 2006
Posted on: December 7, 2010 5:02 pm

Hornets officially on life support in New Orleans

The level of ignorance here is pretty amazing. New Orleans is a great sports destination with knowledgable and passionate fans. Besides the World Champion Saints, there have been numerous Super Bowls and another coming soon;NCAA Final Fours; an NBA All-Star game; numerous NCAA events; Olympic Trials; the Sugar bowl--a BCS bowl-- and much more.

George Shinn is a bad owner and a horrible businessman. He wasted a year with his former GM as head coach to save a few lousy bucks. He has traded most of the roster to avoid the luxury tax. And he held out for much more than the franchise he had damaged was worth, thus scuttling the sale.

And, by the way, I'm a native of N.O. I've lived in the "giant bowl" for 50+ years. If our incompetent federal government and useless Army Corps of Engineers hadn't built horrible levees and left many to die, most people  here would be fine, like I am. I was insured, I asked no one else for help. I moved on. And also, while I respect NYPD and NYFD greatly, when 911 happened they had homes to go back to which weren't underwater. Their families largely were not in harm's way. After doing the great work they did, they had homes and families to go back to. Many of our first responders didn't.

So, unlesss you've lived here, or met some people here, get your head out of your aZZ and buy a clue. You won't find better football fans anywhere than Saints fans. You won't find nicer people than New Orleanians. And we'll welcome you to visit us and have a great time. Even if you are an ignorant butthead.

Since: Sep 17, 2007
Posted on: December 7, 2010 4:46 pm

Hornets officially on life support in New Orleans

I don't care about this situation at all but the teal and purple colors are at least unique. Just as the D-Backs colors were before they decided to look like the Astros, or the Blue Jays before they curiously eliminated the blue from their color scheme. And you wanna talk about generic, what about the "Bobcats"? Thats a junior high level genreric team name. Whatever happens to the New Orleans franchise, I hope more teams continue to employ unique color schemes, if for nothing else, than to annoy people who want all teams to look boring and similar.

Since: Dec 18, 2007
Posted on: December 7, 2010 4:34 pm

Hornets officially on life support in New Orleans


Since: May 30, 2008
Posted on: December 7, 2010 3:31 pm

Hornets officially on life support in New Orleans

WACisWack, i hope your whole family dies in front of you as you watch.

Since: Jan 1, 2007
Posted on: December 7, 2010 3:08 pm

Hornets officially on life support in New Orleans

No hornets in New Orleans? Pretty sure you can find them. Southern United States in summer, especially in the bayou, you are bound to find lots of insects. I doubt the Jazz would relinquish the name after so many decades. Desperation on your part.

Since: Feb 16, 2008
Posted on: December 7, 2010 3:00 pm

Keys to success in NOLA

New Orleans cares so much about its identity and culture, and the Hornets are a transplant team. Straight out of Charlotte, the Hornets didn't change anything about themselves for the move to the Big Easy. They're still the ultra-generic "Hornets," and their uniforms are still an awful '90s blend of teal and purple. 
For the Hornets to build fan support in New Orleans, the NBA needs to take a few simple steps to get in line with the city. First, change the team's colors to black and gold. Biting off the Saints, I know, but it would do wonders for merchandise sales, and would put the team more in-step with the city's macho sports attitude. Teal just isn't tough.
Next, the team needs to change its name. There are no hornets in New Orleans. And since there's no jazz in Utah, maybe the NBA can get that name back. The New Orleans Jazz would put the city into a fervor. But, I doubt that's realistic. Anything local would suffice. The New Orleans Creole Tomatoes. People down here will latch onto anything with local flair.
And, finally, the team needs to invest in the community the way the Saints have. Part of the reason Drew Brees was named SI's Athlete of the Year was because of his charitable work in New Orleans. The Saints have a much bigger footprint in this community, and part of that is because the Saints give so much back to the community. The Hornets need to follow suit. Maybe the Hornets already do. If that's the case, they need to hire better P.R. people.

Since: Jul 29, 2008
Posted on: December 7, 2010 1:50 pm

Hornets officially on life support in New Orleans

David Stern won't stop running the NBA into the ground until it folds. After this strike the NBA is going to turn into the NHL. This league already supposedly loses money and now there going to go on strike. Good luck getting the fans back.

Since: Sep 26, 2010
Posted on: December 7, 2010 1:31 pm

Hornets officially on life support in New Orleans

"Could you have a more ignorant statement.  I am sure there are thousands of misplaced residents from the surrounding parrishes who would disagree with you on the extent their city has been rebuilt, let alone being content with it."

---- And I am sure there are many Americans that refuse to live someplace that is geographically idiotic to live in.  If you live in a giant bowl in between a giant lake and the largest river in the USA, well, you should expect to drown.

But I digress.......  my point remains.  Katrina was a terrible disaster.  But it doesn't magically make a city have "die-hard" fans.  In fact, Katrina proved to America that New Orleans has no respect for itself.  When 911 happened, NYPD and FD ran to the buildings to help.  When Katrina happened NOPD and FD ran to the suburbs to save their families.  Move the Bobcats.  And, in 10 years, when the Super Bowl victory wears off, move the Saints to a city that actually cares and will support a team.

Since: Jul 9, 2010
Posted on: December 7, 2010 12:41 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Mar 19, 2008
Posted on: December 7, 2010 12:28 pm

Hornets officially on life support in New Orleans

Sorry, meant to say he wanted the Taxpayers to pay for a new arena in total.

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