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