The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

21 September 2005

Only $999

That's the price for lower-level season tickets for the 35 New Orleans and/or Oklahoma City Hornets games to be played at the Ford Center this season. (Six games will be played in Louisiana; there are 41 road games.)

The deal that brought the team to town is fairly complex: the city must install an NBA-grade floor and do a couple other improvements at the Ford, and must seek tax credits and benefits from the state on behalf of the team. (One such benefit: a cancellation of the sales tax on Hornets tickets.) The team and the NBA are responsible for business plans and marketing, and there is an option for the Hornets to come back in 2006-07.

But more importantly, the city must guarantee the team a 5-percent improvement over its revenues last year in New Orleans, or make up the difference, which could be up to $10 million. (The state and a local business consortium are splitting the liability with the city.) However, should revenues exceed the 105-percent figure, the city stands to make a killing. This is actually reminiscent of the Skirvin Hotel deal: there is some upside risk, but unless things fall totally apart, the city comes out ahead. (This assumes that sports accounting is not like Hollywood accounting, which may be a lot to assume.)

"Totally apart," in this instance, means a half-full arena: City Manager Jim Couch says they will need to average more than 10,000 ticket sales per game to meet the revenue requirements.

Average ticket price should be around $45-50, and the home opener is 4 November against Sacramento.

(Update, 9 pm: AP is reporting that the Hornets have commitments for 2,000 season tickets already.)

Posted at 1:15 PM to Net Proceeds