The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

15 January 2006

Yet another "Will they stay?" article

The Hornets started out, after all, as a Charlotte team, so I tend to give some additional weight to Charlotte pundits in this matter.

The Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell, looking toward the future of the Bees:

Oklahoma City is already a phenomenon. Ford Center is packed or nearly packed every night and the volume would remind you of Charlotte Coliseum, circa 1990. The NBA loves virgin territory — that was [owner George] Shinn's original sales pitch for expansion to Charlotte — and OKC is just large enough to support one major-league team.

From what I hear, the Hornets generate about $1 million in revenue every home game there. Their lucrative cable-television deal with Cox transferred to Oklahoma City, because Cox operates both there and in New Orleans.

Shinn is genuinely conflicted about New Orleans for practical and sentimental reasons. I'm sure he doesn't want to be remembered as the guy who moved a team twice in five years.

But this time he bears no fault. Hurricane Katrina didn't just wreck New Orleans, it emptied the city. The arena can be fixed, and will be in time to host three Hornets games this season. But will there again be the population and corporate base to support a team, particularly with the NFL pressuring the Saints to stay there as well?

Whatever you think of Shinn, the man knows a good business deal. Whatever flaws the Ford Center has as an NBA venue can be fixed. Oklahoma City sees the Hornets as validation, and that town will keep buying tickets and T-shirts.

Who would turn his back on that?

Then again, it's not just up to Shinn, and the NBA's David Stern, who has to sign off on any such thing, isn't giving any hints that he would.

And we will not engage in any New Orleans-bashing, unlike, say Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who will play the Hornets in the Big Easy this season, and is quoted by Bonnell thusly:

Hopefully they've drained the mud out of the building, and the termites aren't going to eat the buildings away by the time we get down there.

Now that's just harsh, Phil. And some of those Louisiana boys are going to be anxious to make you pay for that.

Posted at 4:31 PM to Net Proceeds

Charlottean speaking here. Shinn's a businessman, but a bad one. He poisoned relations with Charlotte, then jumped for the money in NO. Now, unless the NBA says no, you'll see him jump to OC faster than a frog on a skillet.

Then, when he's done to y'all what he did to Charlotte, he'll jump elsewhere. Enjoy his Hornets while you can.

Posted by: Bill Peschel at 5:07 PM on 15 January 2006

We know his history. (Okay, it was a cram course, but we did the research.) I still think it's at least an even bet that the NBA says no; it's no secret around town that Shinn was looking for some co-owners, officially to reduce the debt he incurred by buying out his erstwhile partner, possibly to anchor himself further on the prairie in the hopes of presenting NBA brass with a fait accompli.

We shall indeed see.

Posted by: CGHill at 5:56 PM on 15 January 2006

This article was posted at They all seem to think the team is staying. This article stats just another valid reason why...

Posted by: Hornet at 8:39 PM on 15 January 2006

Interesting thread (and it's long, too!) you've got there.

This from JWHornet (on this thread) seems pertinent:
All you really need to hear is this from the commish: "I think our situations are different. In all cases, the question is: What is best for New Orleans?"

That's the PR doublespeak I've alluded to in the past. What is the best for NO? Well, obviously, it's best for them to forget about sports and focusing on saving a city which is in bad shape at the current moment. My point is that the statement above is friendly to NO but gives the Association wiggle room to stay here no matter what.

All I know is they've gone above and beyond what is necessary to make the team a success here. Fact is, the Hornets would have probable sold crazy-well even without things such as the hybrid NO/OKC name, the OKC patch and removing NO from the home jerseys. They could have kept the unis the same as last year. But they decide to change all this for a temporary city? Doesn't make any sense. The tickets would have sold regardless. To me, this is a continuation of Stern's crusade AGAINST the NBA in NO (he blocked the TWolves coming there, btw) and I think this current setup gives him a good reason to learn things.

To which I have only one response: "The TWolves wanted to move to New Orleans?"

I learn something every day. :)

Posted by: CGHill at 8:59 PM on 15 January 2006

I don't think the loss of a sports team will hurt New Orleans at this point. Katrina has done just about all the damage you can imagine. We need levees more than a sports team. Seriously.

Posted by: Tim at 11:03 AM on 16 January 2006