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It’s official: The Hornets are the league’s problem now

Dec 20, 2010, 10:07 PM EDT

Detroit Pistons v New Orleans Hornets Getty Images

The long-discussed NBA league purchase of the New Orleans Hornets got the final rubber stamp of approval when the Board of Governors — you know, the other owners, the ones footing the bill — agreed to purchase the team, the league announced today.

It now falls to Jac Sperling to find a buyer while Hugh Webber will essentially continue to run the team. Sperling — an executive with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild and the guy who brokered the sale of the NHL’s Ducks — said the goal is to find an owner or owners who want to keep the team in New Orleans. The league is already negotiating with the state of Louisiana — the owners of the New Orleans Arena — to find a better lease deal from the team.

However, this is a team expected to lose millions this season and was already $83 million in debt as of a couple of years ago. A team that has struggled to find the corporate sponsors and suite buyers — the rich people for the expensive seats — that are the lifeblood of NBA franchises now. So finding a local owner or keeping the team in the Big Easy will be a monumental challenge.

But now the game is officially on.

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