Report: Return of Hornets to Charlotte showing immediate benefits
The decision by the Charlotte Bobcats to rebrand themselves as the Charlotte Hornets has lead to huge gains in ticket sales for the struggling franchise.
The Sporting News reports that Charlotte fans seem to be pretty excited about the prospect of getting the name "Hornets" back on their franchise, and are letting their wallets do the talking.
Most notably, new ticket sales are up 59 percent from last year.
"What's really encouraging about that is the vast majority of those people have taken advantage of the two-year season ticket program," Guelli said.
The two-year plan involves buying tickets for the final season of the Bobcats, the upcoming 2013-14 season, and also the return of the Hornets in 2014-15. The price over two seasons is frozen.
Although he did not have a specific figure, Guelli said the number of fans signing up for the two-year plan accounted for more than 50 percent of new sales.
The story is equally encouraging on the season ticket renewal side, where the Bobcats are up 11 percent year-over-year, already surpassing last year's renewal number with months to go until the preseason begins in October. Many of those fans renewing also have taken advantage of the two-year ticket plan offered to new season ticket buyers.
The goal, Guelli said, is to hit more than 90 percent on renewals, where most of the NBA's strongest franchises check in each offseason. The Bobcats won't reach that figure this season—they'll be closer to 85 percent—but it isn't out of reach as the Hornets' return in 2014-15.
To put those numbers in perspective, an industry source tells Sporting News the Bobcats are in the NBA's top 10 for new season ticket sales for next season. The Bobcats ranked 24th in home attendance last season.
The Hornets name returns after the New Orleans franchise that moved from Charlotte in 2002 changed its name this season to the Pelicans. So the Hornets who used to be in Charlotte became the Pelicans, whiche meant the Bobcats could become the Hornets. Got it?
Pretty impressive that a simple name change could have this kind of impact. The Bobcats, although not historically dreadful as in the lockout season of 2011, were still terrible last season, and are set to be somewhere between below-mediocre and not-good-at-all this season, despite adding free agent Al Jefferson with a huge contract this summer. They have a promising young core, but really need an All-Star caliber player through the draft to really start to build towards something.
The 2014 draft affords them such an opportunity, provided they land in the top-ten next year (otherwise the pick goes to Chicago as part of the Tyrus Thomas deal; the Bobcats used the amnesty provision on Thomas in July; have we mentioned the Bobcats have been bad?). But with the progression of Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, along with Jefferson and the support of talented developing players like Gerald Henderson and Jeff Taylor, they may actually do too well in the one year they can afford to not land No. 1 or 2 and still get an elite player.
Still, it's good to see Charlotte getting excited over the return of the turqoise and purple. They were a raucous crowd and supportive NBA city before an ugly situation with former owner George Shinn drove public support away prior to the team's move. This could be the righting of the ship. Or it could be lipstick on a hornet's nest.
But hey, retro Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson jerseys!
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