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Stern: There are four or five local buyers interested in Hornets

Aug 18, 2011, 8:08 AM EDT

Detroit Pistons v New Orleans Hornets Getty Images

Since the NBA bought out the old ownership of the New Orleans Hornets, the league started trying to solidify the financials of the team — get more sponsors, sell more season tickets, get a better arena deal with the state. Oh, and crush the players union. Maybe we can do some more profit sharing, too.

Even with all that, there were serious questions if the league would be able to find a local buyer that would keep the team in New Orleans (notoriously not the best sports market).

Apparently they have.

That’s what David Stern told the Times-Picayune.

“We have four or possibly five buyers that engaged us about the purchase of the franchise to remain in Louisiana,” said Stern, who declined to identify them. “We have said that we’re happy to continue conversations, but we need to complete all of the things we’re working on and have a better idea on where the collective bargaining agreement is going to land.”

If the new Collective Bargaining Agreement — and whatever revenue sharing is agreed to — really does help smaller market teams, the odds of the Hornets staying in the land of gumbo goes way up. However, an extended lockout will hurt casual fan interest severely, and a lot of the inroads being made now may be lost in that scenario. Fans are going to be angry with the players and the league, and that is going to show at the gate and in television ratings, and from there ultimately in revenue.

You know there are owners out there willing to buy then move the team. But maybe there is hope that will not happen. It’s a long way from being finalized, but it would be nice to see the league be able to find an owner and keep the Hornets in the Crescent City.

  1. zblott - Aug 18, 2011 at 2:44 PM

    Again, potential owners keep lining up to buy franchises, even in dying cities during a horrible recession. Do NBA owners and David Stern really think we believe they’re losing money?

  2. redstar504 - Aug 18, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    Zblott – I am jut putting this out there for you and I don’t mean it as some type of argument I am only trying to counter this picture of New Orleans that seems to be out there. We are far from that city underwater 5-6 years ago.

    New Orleans is far from a dying city, and in fact has improved in all aspects since Katrina tore down the old city and allowed us to start over. While most of the nation is experiencing job loss Louisiana and particularly the New Orleans Metropolitan Area is growing.

    The present outlook in New Orleans is good. This city continues to grow as Louisiana claims a larger share of the oil industry (in addition to finally getting it’s fair share of oil and gas royalties that were being paid to Texas but not Louisiana). Our tourism industry is thriving, we are gaining more permanent cruise ships, flights are up. The largest medical corridor/hospital complex in the region is now under construction in down town New Orleans, our fishing industry is recovering from BP’s spill last year, population is consistently on the up. How is that a dying city? You tell me.

    The future even looks brighter. Once the embargo is fully lifted on Cuba New Orleans shipping industry will get another shot in the arm and quickly reestablish it’s self as Cuba’s largest trading partner.

    The present looks good, the future looks good. So again how is New Orleans a dying city?

  3. zblott - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:03 AM

    @redstar – I appreciate the thoughts of an NO local defending his city, but I’ve yet to hear a lot of positive things about the city from people who have traveled there (and I know a lot of people who travel). I don’t want to bash the city to someone like yourself who is staying put and (hopefully, presumably) working hard to improve it after the national government took a giant turd on it after Katrina, but we are talking about a place on a piece of land that is below sea level, is sinking, and in an area that is likely to get more hurricanes in the future. I would hope the population is rising after losing 50% of its people just 5 years ago, and I’m not convinced that more cruise ships, flights, and building a huge hospital is my idea of a city that’s doing a complete rebound. Now if some huge tech company relocates there bringing real jobs, that would be more convincing than rising tourism chiefly due to national advertising pushing it as a helpful, American thing to do on the cheap. I don’t want to call it pity tourism, but that’s the impression you get from tourists who go there for anything other than Mardi Gras. I truly wish your city the best, but it has to be concerning for anyone there that the city is sinking and in a hurricane zone – that alone has to give one pause for NO’s future.

  4. redstar504 - Aug 19, 2011 at 9:05 PM

    Again I am still not arguing I think what you put out there is a fair assessment from someone on the outside looking in, someone who may have had some folks come down here (pity tourism as you say) and have a bad time.

    Here is the bad and it is the stuff you see in the news. Crime is and always will be a problem. We are a port city and there are a lot of guns and drugs that come in there are also a lot of guns and drugs on the streets here. Our murder rate is through the roof. There have been years where our raw number killed (forget pre-capita) have exceeded cities 2 or 3 times our size. We have recently had a rash of shootings on Bourbon Street one a cop gunning down an individual directly out in the open on a weekend night. Yes, it does not surprise me that you’re not hearing positive things from folks that travel here and have to watch our local news in their hotel rooms and enjoy the first 10 minute report on who got killed today and where. If I were only in a place for a few days and based my judgment on headlines I would have a negative perception as well. The crime stinks the current approach we have now is invest in heavily in education and hope that helps in the long run. Yes there was a huge population loss but a lot of that drain wasn’t entirely a bad thing. Take a look at the crime rate upticks in Houston and you can see what I am talking about. Most of the loss was to the surrounding parishes of St. Tammany and Jefferson so we lost folks to our self if that makes sense.

    As for the Hurricanes it is something we have to live with. Katrina was more of a man made problem than a natural disaster. For our neighbors in Mississippi who really took it on the chin it was a disaster for us it was a failure of systems. We bare blame along with the federal authorities. The inspection of levees and floodwalls was a joke. New Orleans went to war on Aug. 28/29, 2005 with a flood system from the 30’s. It failed shockingly! Since then billions have been poured into a state of the art system. We have opened up river diversions to create new land. New Orleans is safer today than it was in 2005 but not immune. We have to live with that threat but other cities do as well. Los Angles or San Francisco could be destroyed by earthquake. New York could be devastated and flooded by a hurricane much like the storm of 1938. It is a possibility heck I would say a 100% chance that overtime New Orleans will get a hurricane, earthquakes will destroy west cost cities and Manhattan will flood. That doesn’t mean you abandon ship and head for the hills.

    As for the distain for tourism jobs I hear you 100%. The old New Orleans lead by the wonderful mayor Marc Morial decided we would put all eggs into that basket. Completely neglecting the cities major industries (Oil & Shipping). The city suffered and lost jobs (high paying jobs) to Texas. Fortunately today we have leadership that understands you can pay someone minimum wage to work at a hotel an oil engineer and a river pilot make a whole lot more. As for the hospital it’s not a hospital but a district of hospitals and research centers. We have 2 major medical schools here in New Orleans the building of the med district will allow the city to hold on to some of the folks graduating again high paying medical research jobs. As for tech we have been getting a lot of small operations popping up all over the city just this week Gameloft opened a development studio here. Once the space program gets back on track (and it will with anyone else in the Whitehouse) Michoud Space Center will be humming along again. Once again all high paying jobs. Side note since Katrina the state and city developed tax breaks to lure movie production here. That has been successful beyond our wildest dreams movie studios are popping up all over. There are always a handful of movies being shot here. Even ones that are not set here which are the ones you want I hear. This is a whole new industry before it was just on location stuff ala Treme (sorry about that show it’s horrid). Again tons of new jobs.

    I travel a lot just this year I went to L.A., Las Vegas, and Miami. I know what we are not. The 3 cities I went to this year are on a different plane than New Orleans. New Orleans will never be an L.A. but I do believe and I think that the NBA believes New Orleans will be a city that can compete on equal terms with a Miami or a Las Vegas in the near future. Lot’s of folks forget that before the Oil Bust of the 70’s/80’s New Orleans was one of America’s largest cities. We have been poorly managed and the corruption that took over everything was unbelievable. Today we are better managed, less corrupt, and pointed in the right direction. I think the NBA sees this and wants to keep a team here. This is a sports town just look at the Saints if they can work the Hornets can work.

    Change takes time.

  5. zblott - Aug 21, 2011 at 12:36 PM

    I’m glad to hear NO is “invest[ing] heavily in education” for the future, hopefully keeping funding for Head Start at the levels they were at pre-No Child Left Behind. Helping the kids who desperately need it as early as possible (which is long before kindergarten) is the only way to help a place long-term. Again, I wish your city the best.

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