Jul 21, 2011, 6:00 PM EDT
The New Orleans Hornets have a goal — sell 10,000 season seats.
It’s at the heart of a plan to bolster the bottom line of the franchise and make it more attractive to a local buyer. It also kicks in provisions of the lease that make it hard to move the team out of town.
In other words — they need to do it if they are serious about keeping the Hornets in New Orleans.
The challenge: You try selling season tickets to a sport where there may not be a next season. You try selling during a lockout.
The Times-Picayune has a story on how the Hornets are working at it.
Right now, the Hornets are 1,500 shy of the stated goal of 10,000. (Hornets president Hugh) Weber and (Hornets chairman Jac) Sperling explain to prospective buyers how that number will make moot the team’s attendance benchmarks in the current lease with the state, increase sellouts at the Arena and how close the Hornets are to be leading the league in new ticket sales….
Sperling said the fans with whom he has spoken since the lockout commenced, three weeks into the 100-events-in-100-days campaign, haven’t seemed overly inquisitive about lockout issues, even though the Hornets cannot speak about CBA negotiations under threat of a $1 million fine….
“The idea is this is about New Orleans, the New Orleans Hornets, and people understand it,” Sperling said. “They ask questions, but in general, people understand the deal. This is about the Hornets in New Orleans. This was our plan. That’s what the purpose is. Our fans understand. We’re trying to achieve our goal. And they want to be part of it.”
Most teams don’t sell a lot of season tickets this time of year anyway (unless they scored big in free agency — the Heat phones were ringing off the hook this time last summer). But the Hornets are working it and they are making the right argument — this is about keeping a team in New Orleans. Frame the argument as civic pride, not the lockout or Chris Paul possibly leaving (even if the new Collective Bargaining Agreement could make life a lot better for smaller market clubs like the Hornets and make it easier to keep Chris Paul).
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