Louisiana to announce new lease deal with Hornets

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David Stern says there are buyers lined up to take the Hornets off the league’s hands and start running them like a real franchise. But there was a pesky issue in the way — the league wanted a new, more favorable lease on the New Orleans Arena. Which is owned by the state.

That lease has been reached and will be announced Friday, according to the Times Picayune (via At the Hive).

It is a key step in keeping the Hornets in New Orleans. And New Orleans gets an NBA All-Star Game (I will speak on behalf of my media brothers and sisters here and say we are good with being sent to the Big Easy for a few days).

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will announce this afternoon that the State of Louisiana and the New Orleans Hornets have reached an agreement in principle that will keep the team in the city at least through 2024 with no escape clauses, with an NBA guarantee of another All-Star Game in New Orleans Arena sometime during the period of the lease, several sources with knowledge of the deal said Friday morning.

The state legislature will be asked to approve a capital bond issue of about $50 million that will fund improvements to the Arena, which will allow the Hornets to generate additional monies and relieve the state of the burden of providing the team annual subsidies.

There will be votes in the Louisiana legislature, but a smart politician (and Jindal is that) lines up votes before he makes this kind of announcement. The deal will be good with the new Hornets ownership group — out of California and including Mike Dunleavy — as well.

This is good — good for the Hornets and their fans. And good for the league, the sooner they get out of the business of owning a team the better.