Talks with “handful” of potential Hornets buyers to start soon

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The NBA’s economic model is so broken that wealthy potential owners of new franchises keep lining up despite the league being locked out.

That includes people willing to buy and keep the New Orleans Hornets in the Crescent City, despite that having been a tough NBA market for decades.

Talks with potential owners are going to start soon, said NBA appointed head honcho Jack Sperling in talks with the Associated Press.

The NBA’s appointed governor of the league-owned New Orleans Hornets said Wednesday that he is nearly ready to begin negotiations with “a handful” of potential buyers who have expressed interest in purchasing the club and keeping it in Louisiana.

“We have improved the financial situation of the team, and now we’re getting ready to start to talk, to have serious dialogues … with potential buyers,” Sperling said Wednesday night while attending a social event aimed at boosting community support.

Question number one for any new ownership group will be can they keep Chris Paul — the point guard that is not only the team’s best player but also the face of its marketing and biggest draw at the gate. He can opt out after next season to become a free agent. He will have options.

And in spite of that potential new owner are lined up. How bad an economic model can the NBA really have?

Hornets pick up another major sponsor: Chevron

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While the lockout promises to stall out the momentum the NBA built up last season — it still feels like both players and owners underestimate how pissed off the casual fan will be if games are missed in a recession — the momentum to keep the Hornets in New Orleans goes on strong.

To the tune of about $1 million strong.

That’s because oil giant Chevron just jumped in to sponsor the team next season (whenever that is), reports the Times-Picayune.

Chevron joins Cox Communications, 7-Up, Entergy and Ochsner Health System as a Crescent City Champions sponsor for the franchise. Entergy, the lone Fortune 500 company in the metro area, became a major sponsor last week.

“As we continue to move towards our goal of keeping the Hornets in New Orleans, establishing strong corporate support is imperative,” Hornets President Hugh Weber said in a statement. “Having partners like Chevron will help us lay the groundwork to reaching that goal.”

The Hornets staff — which got an infusion of NBA personnel when the league took over the franchise — has done a good job trying to build a solid financial foundation. David Stern says there are four or five interested buyers for the team to keep it in New Orleans.

That’s all good talk and public relations. We’ll see how it all pans out when it is time for some new owner to step forward and write a big check.

Study says 22 other cities could support an NBA team


Contraction? Why are we talking about contraction?

(Well, we’re talking about it because it’s good bargaining leverage so David Stern keeps it alive. But that’s another issue for another day.)

For all the trouble the NBA is having in New Orleans and the threats of moving from Sacramento, there are plenty of other cities that could support an NBA team. The issue isn’t the number of teams, it’s a question of markets. Don’t take my word for it, take a financial expert’s.

There are 22 other cities in the United States and Canada that have the wealth to support an NBA team but don’t have one, according to The Business Journal’s On the Numbers blog (via Eye on Basketball).

An NBA team, according to the study, requires (a total personal income) base of $34.2 billion for adequate support. Twenty-two open markets are above that threshold, earning perfect scores on a 100-point rating scale.

Seattle, for example, has TPI of $176.1 billion. Its baseball, football and soccer teams need a combined base of $137.5 billion, leaving $38.6 billion in available personal income, more than enough for the NBA.

Seattle also has a great hoops fan base. What they don’t have is a state-of-the-art building, which is the same issue in Sacramento. The economics of professional sports has changed and the luxury boxes and expensive, corporate seats close to the action are the big revenue drivers now.

The league is not going to expand, but it’s not going to contract either. Bet on it, Stern just wants it out there as a negotiating tactic. But it may be a question of markets. Why struggle in yours when there is a big city like Kansas City with an almost new Sprint Center that can take an NBA team right now?

Carl Landry says he’d like to play for Portland

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When the NBA free agent frenzy hits — and after this lockout ends it will be a frenzy, much like the NFL’s free agency was — Carl Landry is going to have a lot of GMs telling him how great a fit he’s be in “X.”

But Landry wants to go where the dream of the ’90s is still alive — Portland.

At least that’s what he told SLAM Magazine.

“I think I can fit in with Portland, “Landry told SLAMonline. “They’re in need of a big post presence down low. I’m not taking anything away from (Greg) Oden and (Marcus) Camby. I just know what I can provide. The Blazers are a good team and I know I can help.”

The Hornets want to keep Landry around, but he would fit in well in Portland. Of course, LaMarcus Aldridge is the king of the paint there, not Camby and Oden. Landry would be coming off the bench for the Blazers.

Still, he would be a great fit on the court. Off the court, well, how much does he like the ’90s? What do I mean? Watch the video (any excuse I get get to run a favorite clip of mine).

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


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.