New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson buys New Orleans Hornets from NBA for $338 million. Sacramento’s new NBA arena deal crumbles. Will Charlotte get the Hornets name back? Will Seattle or Kansas City land a NBA franchise?

April 14, 2012

Athletics, Business

Update December 4, 2012

See link Report: New Orleans Hornets to change nickname to Pelicans



With Tom Benson on board, New Orleans Hornets fans can exhale

NFL New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson buys New Orleans Hornets from NBA for $338 million
New Orleans Arena. NBA attendance ranks the Hornets with the 6th lowest out of its 30 franchises as of March 13, 2012.
By Jeff Duncan
The Times-Picayune
Tom m Benson pulled off the biggest upset of his career Friday when he landed the Hornets.
For most of the yearlong courtship, Benson was seen as long shot to gain control of the team. California businessman Raj Bhathal emerged as the front-runner a few months ago, and Gary Chouest was long considered the leading local investor.
Meanwhile, Benson lurked in the shadows. He had the resources, but his interest ebbed and flowed. Eventually, the NBA moved on.
With a nudge from Gov. Bobby Jindal and NBA Commissioner David Stern, Benson re-entered the race a couple of weeks ago and blew everyone out of the water with his $338 million bid.
Sean Payton would have been proud of this “Ambush.”
The good news for New Orleanians and Hornets fans is the team will stay in local hands. The sale was conditional on ownership keeping the team in New Orleans through the life of the new lease agreement, which extends through 2024. Regardless, having a Californian in charge would have created understandable uneasiness among the fan base.
That won’t be the case with Benson. Thankfully, the rumors about the Seattle Hornets or Kansas City Hornets or Anaheim Hornets are over, at least for the foreseeable future.
There are other advantages. Benson is tight with Jindal, has existing relationships with corporate partners and an available database to solicit season-ticket sales.
He admittedly knows little about basketball. In fact, he probably knows less about hoops than he did football when he purchased the Saints in 1985. But he does know how to run a business: Hire good people and get out of the way. That’s the way he’s run the Saints, and it needs to be the way he runs the Hornets.
Benson is wise to keep the brain trust of the Hornets intact, as a league source on Friday said he planned to do. General Manager Dell Demps and Coach Monty Williams are sharp. They’ve done remarkable work in overhauling the roster and steering the organization through an unprecedented situation. They deserve a chance to complete the project.
It’ll be interesting to see how Benson chooses to run the Hornets’ business side.
When he bought the Arena Football League’s VooDoo, he ran a joint operation, merging the front-office staffs. That’ll work for some departments like ticket sales and marketing, but other areas will need upgrading.
This isn’t the AFL. An NBA franchise requires a fully staffed, fully committed operation. The Hornets cannot become a farm club of the Saints. They must be treated as their own enterprise.
The NBA is a vastly different business model than the NFL, though. There will be a learning curve for Benson and his management team.
Their task will be infinitely easier with a little good fortune. Maybe Benson can change the draft fortunes of a club that’s had little luck since landing Chris Paul in the 2005 NBA lottery.
A lucky bounce of the lottery ping-pong balls in May would be a nice start. Landing Kentucky center Anthony Davis would expedite the rebuilding process and likely stir Benson into his first Hornets-inspired boogie.
By all accounts, Benson is in excellent health and as involved as ever with the Saints operations. For a man who turns 85 in July, he’s spending like a teenager at the outlet mall. Since becoming an octogenarian, Benson has bought a TV station, a film company, a downtown office tower and now a professional basketball team. What’s next? Six Flags?
Benson’s decision to buy the city’s NBA franchise is as ironic as it is surprising. Not long ago he so detested the Hornets, he wouldn’t even return owner George Shinn’s phone calls. At best, his organization gave the Hornets the cold shoulder. At worst, it tried to run them out of town.
Gradually, though, he came around. Eventually, he could be seen courtside at Hornets games with wife, Gayle, by his side.
Benson must have figured, if you can’t beat ’em, own ’em.


Saturday, April 14, 2012
NBA’s Sacramento Kings new arena deal crumbles as Maloofs back away from plan
Sacramentos’s existing Power Balance Pavilion
By Dale Kasler, Ryan Lillis and Tony Bizjak
The Sacramento Bee
NEW YORK – Sacramento’s arena deal is dead. And the Kings’ reign in the city is once again clouded by uncertainty.
The family that owns Sacramento’s lone major league sports franchise Friday pulled out of a plan to finance a $391 million sports and entertainment complex in the downtown railyard. Then, reversing a decade of public statements, the family suggested instead that city officials could help them renovate Power Balance Pavilion in North Natomas.
During a hastily called news conference in a law office overlooking New York’s Rockefeller Plaza, a prominent economist and attorneys hired by the Maloof family took turns tearing apart the city’s plan. They argued that it would place Sacramento on the edge of fiscal disaster and could be equally damaging for the Kings.
Later in the day, Mayor Kevin Johnson met privately with the Maloof brothers for more than two hours. But unlike last year – when Johnson was able to persuade the Maloofs and the NBA to support one more attempt at building a new arena – the mayor left that meeting burdened with a dark conclusion.
“I wish I had better news,” the mayor said. “(The Maloofs) are now saying they don’t want to do the deal, which essentially means they don’t want to be in Sacramento.”
Speaking at a somber news conference of his own, NBA Commissioner David Stern said he was “extremely disappointed both for the Maloofs and the city of Sacramento.”
“I think that there’s nothing further to be done,” he said.
As for the team’s future in the city it has called home since 1985?
“I know we’ve scheduled them into Power Balance Pavilion for next year,” Stern said. “It just wouldn’t pay for me to talk about anything beyond that.”
Now, Johnson returns home to Sacramento without a contingency. He quickly dismissed an idea floated by Kings co-owner George Maloof that the team and the city explore renovating Power Balance Pavilion, one of the smallest arenas in the NBA and a facility long derided by the league as inadequate.
“If it was up to me, there is no way that we as a city would invest in that building,” the mayor said. “If they want to renovate (it) on their own using private dollars, that’s their prerogative.”
The City Council had endorsed a plan to leverage downtown parking spaces and garages to generate as much as $255 million toward a new arena in the downtown railyard. Stern praised that commitment, on par with what other cities have provided for arenas.
“We asked the city of Sacramento to step up, and the city stepped up in an extraordinary way,” Stern said in his press conference, which followed the NBA’s spring board of governors meeting.
In what was clearly nothing more than a handshake deal, the Maloof family agreed in February to contribute $73 million toward the arena. Stern revealed Friday that $67 million of that would have come in the form of an NBA loan.
Stern also said Friday that the NBA had committed to contributing $7 million of its own, a fact not previously made public. The remaining funding – about $59 million – was to come from AEG, the company tapped to operate the arena.
George Maloof, the family’s point man on arena negotiations, said he has concluded that renovating the current arena makes more economic sense.
“Why put the pressure on the citizens of Sacramento when we can all figure this out and maybe just do it at Power Balance Pavilion?” Maloof asked.
Asked if that plan were feasible, Maloof replied, “You can redo anything. Trust me, I’m a developer.”
But that stance contradicts a statement the family made in March 2011, when a former Kings executive and the architect who designed the former Arco Arena pitched a remodel of the facility to the Maloofs. The family said they had listened to that proposal, but determined “a renovation of the existing structure is not an adequate solution.”
Neither the Maloof family nor their public relations consultants would expand Friday upon the idea of revamping Power Balance.
Trouble from the start
The sudden collapse of the deal ended an odyssey that began a year ago, when the Kings played their season finale before an emotional sellout crowd. The team was poised to move to Anaheim, and many fans thought it was the last time they would see the team play in Sacramento. That night, the mayor flew to New York, where he would persuade the NBA’s owners to give his city a final shot at solving its years-long arena puzzle.
After months of wrangling, the negotiations hit a crossroads in February during the NBA All-Star weekend in Orlando, Fla. After three tense days, Johnson, the Maloofs and Stern emerged from a hotel conference room with the framework of a deal. Gavin Maloof choked up with emotion and wept as he addressed reporters.
The City Council would later vote to move forward with that plan at a raucous, celebratory meeting.
But in the end, there was much the Kings did not like about the financing plan.
For one thing, the lease agreement offered by AEG was based on unrealistic attendance projections, said Maloof attorney Barry McNeil.
“They took the best two years we had ever had,” he said. “They took when we were a championship contender, and they took years at the height of the bull market and based their projections on that.”
Christopher Thornberg, an economist hired by the Maloofs to dissect the plan, on Friday called the projections “highly overblown” and said actual revenues could have come in between $5 million and $15 million below forecasts.
What’s more, Thornberg said, city officials had presented a “wildly overblown estimate of the kind of revenue value this arena will bring to the city.”
“This project would really put the city right on the edge of potential fiscal disaster,” Thornberg said. “There’s a massive amount of risk for the Kings, the city and ultimately the NBA.”
City officials on Friday rejected Thornberg’s statements.
“Chris Thornberg has never talked to me or our finance director or anyone in the city government about our finances,” City Manager John Shirey said. “We feel very confident with the project that was on the table and we were prepared to move forward with that, and we can still deliver on that project if there is a change of heart tomorrow.”
A representative for AEG did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Concerns about debt
As the arena plan dissolved Friday, the Maloofs accused city officials of charging ahead while ignoring their concerns.
But in his news conference, Stern said the team’s concerns were heard. He suggested that the Maloofs became uncomfortable about the deal because they were worried about taking on more debt.
“They decided this wasn’t a transaction they wanted to go forward with, and this was their right,” Stern said. “If they had done it a little simpler, a little earlier, a little more directly, it would have saved a lot of angst and trouble.”
The Maloofs’ concerns with the plan became publicly known only in recent weeks.
The team owners said they first received a term sheet with the proposed provisions of the deal on Feb. 19, one week before the Maloofs, the NBA and city officials met in Orlando to negotiate.
In an email to NBA officials, George Maloof wrote the family was “having a hard time with this document” and that they “find it insulting.”
Other issues would materialize as a March 1 deadline to develop a financing plan approached.
Among those were a reluctance by the Maloofs to provide collateral for a refinanced loan that would replace the outstanding debt of about $65 million the family still owes the city.
The Maloofs also insisted that the city cover the project’s pre-development costs. They wanted more authority over arena designs and had issues with the length of the 30-year lease the Kings would have signed in the new facility.
‘We’ve been good boys’
George Maloof said those concerns and others were presented to city officials and the NBA in February. On March 6, the City Council voted to move forward with a term sheet that the Maloofs contend they did not agree upon – and, in fact, still included provisions they found unacceptable.
Shirey, however, said the city felt it “had addressed every issue” it had been made aware of by the NBA.
Mayor Johnson said Friday that he was “baffled, to say the least, at how we ended up here.”
“The Maloofs explicitly stated and agreed that the deal was a fair deal,” he said.
The death of the arena plan inevitably led to wishful talk in Sacramento of an ownership change of the Kings, a notion the Maloofs have repeatedly rejected. Billionaire Ron Burkle remains interested in purchasing the franchise, and local business leaders have urged that the Maloofs step aside.
Johnson said he could not say with certainty that the Maloofs “are the best owners for Sacramento.”
“Sacramento deserves a partner who will honor their commitment, Sacramento deserves a partner who wants to work in good faith, and I think that Sacramento deserves better than we’ve got to this point.”
George Maloof said the team remains committed to staying in Sacramento. “Our intentions are not to blow this thing up,” he said. “We’ve been good boys.”
The mayor was reluctant to believe him.
“I think I’ve learned today they can change their mind,” he said.


Will Charlotte get the “Hornets” name back now that the NBA has a new owner for the New Orleans team?
Petition, Facebook page trying to create buzz around Hornets name change
WCNC NewsChannel 36 NBC Charlotte
March 28, 2012

CHARLOTTE — A group that’s trying to bring the Hornets name back to Charlotte is holding an event Friday night to try and create some buzz.

We Beelieve is asking people to come out Friday, March 30, put on any teal and purple Charlotte Hornets garb they can find, and sit in the cheap seats in section 222 and 223 at Time Warner Cable Arena for the Bobcats game against the Nuggets. There’s an event beforehand at Fitzgerald’s, starting at 5:30 p.m.

John Morgan, an art teacher from Charlotte, started the We Beelieve Facebook page. More recently, he created an online petition at asking the Charlotte Bobcats to change their name back to the Hornets.
The Charlotte Hornets were an NBA expansion team that started playing here in 1988, but moved to New Orleans in 2002 and kept the name. Any change would require New Orleans to give up their name, and would cost the Charlotte Bobcats millions of dollars to change uniforms, signs and even stationary.

A Bobcats spokesman called a name change “extremely hypothetical.”


Facebook: We Beelieve: Charlotte…take back your Hornets!
Online Petition: We Beelieve: Charlotte…take back your Hornets!!!: Rename Charlotte’s NBA Franchise the HORNETS

Video: WBTV 3 CBS Charlotte’s General Manager Nick Simonette says “Bring back the Hornets” name.

See link for video:

The city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County and the Hornets share a long history
The Hornets Nest is the most powerful historic symbol of Mecklenburg County.
In the spring of 1780, Lord Cornwallis and the British army landed at Charleston, South Carolina and began a northward march to break the stalemate in the Revolutionary War. On September 26, 1780, Cornwallis and his British army entered Charlotte despite valiant resistance from the local militia led by William R. Davie and Joseph Graham. The British army occupied Charlotte, but local militia continued to harass the British troops at every opportunity. While headquartered in Charlotte, Cornwallis sent a patrol to the McIntyre farm on Beatties Ford Road to search for supplies. At the farmhouse, a handful of Mecklenburg militia once again fired upon the British. During the confusion, the scrambling British soldiers overturned several beehives in the yard and the skirmish became known as the Battle of the Bees. On October 12, the British retreated to South Carolina and a distressed Cornwallis wrote to his superiors that Charlotte was a “veritable nest of hornets”. Local patriots were proud of their defense of Charlotte against overwhelming odds. Two centuries later, a hornet’s nest is remembered and used by Charlotte and Mecklenburg County as part of the official seal for local government and including the hornet used for sporting teams mascots.
Monument commemorating the McIntyre skirmish October 3, 1780
The logo of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission is the Hornets Nest.
Seal of the City of Charlotte on the Mecklenburg County North Carolina flag
The first flag was adopted by the City Council on May 6, 1929. The round emblem on the flag is the seal of the city. The tree represents growth. A hornet’s nest can be seen on the left tree branch. The hornet’s nest has long been a symbol for Charlotte, because in the American Revolution.
Seal of Mecklenburg County displays the hornets nest
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police
Rodney D. Monroe, Chief of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department with hornets nest badge.
Professional sporting teams that used the “Hornets” name in Charlotte
The Charlotte Hornets was the name of the minor league baseball franchise based in Charlotte, originally founded in 1901, and lasted in some form until 1973. From 1937-42 and 1946-72, the Hornets were a farm system affiliate of the original Washington Senators franchise and its post-1960 successor, the Minnesota Twins.
The Charlotte Hornets were a football team in the short-lived World Football League in 1974.
The Charlotte Hornets began play during the 1988–89 NBA season as an expansion franchise. The franchise was located in Charlotte from 1988-2002 when they relocated to New Orleans when they city would not build a new arena to replace the Charlotte Coliseum that opened in 1988.
Proposed new downtown (uptown) Charlotte Hornets arena to replace the Charlotte Coliseum
Charlotte’s TimeWarner Cable Arena (home to the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats) in downtown Charlotte
The Charlotte Hornets name is still being worn long after the Hornets have departed the city of Charlotte
Chris Brown
Cam Newton, quarterback for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, seen at a Charlotte Bobcats game while sitting on the front row.

Benson wants to give Hornets a new name with local flavor

April 17, 2012

WWL 4 CBS New Orleans

Video link:

NBA Arenas by year built
New York Brooklyn Barclays Center 2012 (future home of the Nets)
Orlando Amway Center 2010
Charlotte Time Warner Cable Arena 2005
Memphis FedExForum 2004
Houston Toyota Center 2003
San Antonio AT&T Center 2002
Oklahoma City Chesapeake Energy Arena 2002
Dallas American Airlines Center 2001
New Orleans New Orleans Arena 1999
Denver Pepsi Center 1999
Toronto Air Canada Centre 1999
Los Angeles Staples Center 1999
Atlanta Philips Arena 1999
Miami American Airlines Arena 1999
Indianapolis Bankers Life Fieldhouse 1999
Washington Verizon Center 1997
Philadelphia Wells Fargo Center 1996
Boston TD Garden 1995
Portland Rose Garden 1995
Chicago United Center 1994
Cleveland Quicken Loans Arena 1994
Phoenix US Airways Center 1992
Salt Lake City EnergySolutions Arena (Delta Center) 1991
Minneapolis Target Center 1990 (renovated in 2004)
Detroit The Palace 1988
Milwaukee Bradley Center 1988
Sacramento Power Balance Pavilion (Arco Arena) 1988
New York Madison Square Garden (IV) 1968 (renovation to be complete 2013)
Oakland Oracle Arena 1966 (renovated 1996)
KeyArena at Seattle Center (Seattle Center) was rebuilt between 1994 and 1995 but, the city’s Seattle Sonics relocated to Oklahoma City before the 2008-2009 season began. This move was made only after a $45 million settlement with the city of Seattle to pay off the team’s existing lease at KeyArena in advance of its 2010 expiration.
1988’s and 1989’s expansion teams have already replaced or renovated their arenas   
The Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat began their first season in the years 1988–1989.
Charlotte Coliseum was home to the Charlotte Hornets (now New Orleans Hornets) from 1988–2002, and the Charlotte Bobcats from 2004–2005. The building was demolished via implosion on June 3, 2007. It was the largest seating capacity arena in the NBA. That title is now held by the Detroit area’s The Palace.
This is a current view of the TimeWarner Cable Arena.
Miami Arena was completed in 1988. The arena was the home of the Miami Heat from 1988–1999. On September 21, 2008 the Miami Arena began to be demolished via implosion.
The old Miami Arena can be seen in the background behind the current American Airlines Arena.
The Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando Magic began their first season in the years 1989–1990.
Amway Arena (formerly known as the Orlando Arena, TD Waterhouse Centre) was completed in 1989. It was home to the NBA from 1989-2009. The building was demolished via implosion on March 25, 2012.
Amway Arena
Amway Center
The Target Center was originally built and owned by the Timberwolves in 1990. The City of Minneapolis purchased the arena in 1995. The arena was renovated in 2004 replacing of all the original seats, adding over 1,000 new seats with a reconfiguration of the lower bowl. A $150 million renovation was proposed in 2011.
Video: Target Center Renovation Press Conference
Madison Square Garden, the 44-year-old arena, is undergo a completed renovation. The project, with a scheduled completion date of October 2013, is expected to cost between $775-$850 million.
Video: Workers transform Madison Square Garden in time-lapse video
Video: shows a new obstructed view at Madison Square Garden after renovation 
Madison Square Garden construction of the lower bowl (Phase One) was completed for the 2011–2012 NHL and NBA seasons
Madison Square Garden is planning a large-scale renovation that is expected to be completed in time for the 2013-14 Knicks and Rangers seasons.
The floor at Madison Square Garden surrounded by new seating in the lower bowl, part of the transformation project. (Oct. 19, 2011) Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle
Hank Ratner, President & CEO, The Madison Square Garden Company speaks about the Garden from a 10th floor viewing area that features a clear view of the floor. (Oct. 19, 2011) Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

Future NBA franchise cities?

Kansas City

Sprint Center opened to the public on October 10, 2007. The arena seats more than 19,000 people and has 72 suites. Sprint Center has effectively replaced Kemper Arena, which was built in 1974. Kansas City has entered into discussions in the past with the NHL and the NBA regarding possible expansion or relocation of a professional hockey and/or basketball franchise for the arena.

-The New Orleans Arena was was completed in 1999. It did not become home to the Hornets they relocated in 2002.

– Chesapeake Energy Arena (originally Ford Center) in Oklahoma City opened in 2002. The Seattle SuperSonics now the Oklahoma City Thunder did not relocate to Oklahoma City until 2008.


April 12, 2012

Seattle watches as Sacramento Kings drama plays out

KING 5 News

The status of the Kings is closely watched by Seattle officials and a private investor group committed to building a $490 million arena in SODO. The Maloof family has said it will relocate the Kings if a new Sacramento facility isn’t built. SODO is a neighborhood in Seattle, that makes up part of the city’s Industrial District. The group in Seattle is led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen, who Hansen has been buying up property at the proposed site just south of Safeco Field.


The Raleigh-Durham metropolitan areas is home to only one major professional franchise, the NHL Carolina Hurricanes. The Hartford Whalers relocated to North Carolina in 1997 and won its first Stanley Cup during the 2005–2006 season. Raleigh-Durham has a population of over 1.7 million and is the center of North Carolina’s basketball fanbase known as “Tobacco Road”. North Carolina has a population of nearly 10 million and ranks as the nation’s 10th most populated state. PNC Arena (formerly RBC Center) seats 19,722 for basketball or 18,680 for ice hockey, including 66 luxury suites and 2,000 club seats.


The 22,000 seat KFC Yum! Center opened on October 10, 2010. Louisville was home an American Basketball Association franchise called the Kentucky Colonels from 1967-1976. The Colonels won the most games and had the highest winning percentage of any franchise in the ABA league’s history, but the team did not join the NBA in the 1976 ABA-NBA merger.


Monday, April 16, 2012

New Orleans Hornets deserve a new moniker that’s unique to the city and Louisiana

By Jeff Duncan, The Times-Picayune
The Times-Picayune

Change was in the air at the New Orleans Hornets’ annual Top Hats and High Tops fundraiser Saturday night. A sense of measured uneasiness cloaked the room as team officials, players and sponsors raised funds and a glass or two for a local charity at the recently renovated Hyatt Regency Hotel.

On one hand, everyone was relieved the 16-month ownership odyssey was mercifully over. On the other, folks wondered what changes this new dawn will bring.

Ownership change usually means changes in other areas. Some good, some potentially not so good.

One of the first changes Tom Benson said he plans to make is to the team’s nickname, and this one falls under the “good change” category.

Benson’s proclamation has created, well, a buzz among the fans, who have universally endorsed the idea. Mascot Hugo Hornet might be the lone dissenter.

Under team president Hugh Weber’s shrewd direction, the organization has done a remarkable job of rebranding itself into a New Orleans business since moving back home in 2007. The color schemes and logos have changed to better reflect local customs, and this strategy inspired the popular “NOLA” Mardi Gras uniforms.

But the club stopped short of changing the nickname.

Benson now says he wants to take the next step, and it’s not an easy process. The league usually requires a two-year window to complete the task, primarily because of merchandising and marketing purposes.

It also can be expensive. Everything in the organization must be rebranded, from office supplies to domain names.

Consequently, many teams choose to keep their color schemes, logos and nicknames when they relocate. This is how you end up with confounding combinations like the Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies and, the most illogical of all, the Utah Jazz.

Every once in a while a relocation inspires a complete rebranding. The Houston Oilers became the Tennessee Titans in 1999, the Seattle SuperSonics became the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008, and the Atlanta Thrashers became the Winnipeg Jets this season.

Rarer still is the rebranding of an existing team. The Washington Bullets changed to the Wizards for obvious reasons in 1997, and the Tampa Bay Rays wisely dropped the Devil in 2008.

Otherwise, nickname changes have been few and far between.

In this case, the Hornets’ nickname isn’t particularly bad, but it’s far from appropriate. Yes, we have Hornets in New Orleans, but so does every other city in North America. A world-class city with such a unique distinctive way of life demands a unique distinctive nickname for its pro sports teams. “Hornets” simply doesn’t cut it.

It’s time for a change.

If only Benson could do as well as forefathers Dave Dixon and John Mecom did when they came up with the Saints’ nickname, logo and color scheme back in 1966.

Fans and journalists pushed for a red, white and blue color scheme, but Mecom went with the unique black and gold combination to honor his father’s oil business (Black Gold). The fleur-de-lis logo is distinctive and emblematic. To this day, the nickname, logo and color scheme are unique in American pro sports.

You recognize the Saints instantly when you glance at one of their games on TV. That’s not the case for most teams. Is that the Lions or the Cowboys?

New Orleans’ basketball club needs a similar brand.

This is a big decision, and if done right, a nickname change can be a merchandising gold mine. If not, it can lead to widespread embarrassment that can take years to undo.

The Washington Wizards recently rebranded again, committing to their retro red, white and blue color scheme and uniforms.

One thing is certain, team officials will have no shortage of suggestions, and few things stir fan enthusiasm more than a name change., a fan website devoted to the team, features a thread on its message board with 429 posts about the subject. Everything from ArcAngels to Witchdoctors has been suggested. There’s also Brass and Crawgators and Grenadiers and Knights and Krewe.

I’m partial to Louisiana Swamp People. The marketing potential is unlimited. “Choot it!” could become the official team cheer. Copyright infringement, I fear, might be an issue.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Tom Benson would like to change the name of the NBA team to better fit the ambience, culture and charm of New Orleans

By Jimmy Smith
The Times-Picayune

Benson said he is also trying to change the name of the NBA team to better fit the ambience, culture and charm of New Orleans.

“We need to find a name like (Jazz),” Benson said, referring to New Orleans first NBA team that relocated to Salt Lake City in 1979. “Whether we can get that or let us use that, you’ve got to know we’re working on it. We’d like to change it tomorrow. We have not gotten that approved, but we’re not letting up on it, either. Because we’ve got a good relationship with the commissioner and his people and we’re going to be on them daily to do something.”

The NBA purchased the Hornets from founding owner George Shinn in December 2010 for about $318 million when it appeared Shinn might sell to investors who planned to move the team out of New Orleans.



Monday, April 23, 2012

Charlotte Hornets gear is back in style

By Andrew Dunn
The Charlotte Observer

The Charlotte Hornets are back in style, and retailers are cashing in on the retro-chic wave of nostalgia.
The purple and teal of Charlotte’s first NBA team grew popular in the early 1990s. Now, as the decade’s style enjoys a resurgence, so too have the team’s jerseys, shirts and, most prominently, snapback hats.

Speculation in recent weeks that the team’s name could return to Charlotte has made the gear even hotter.

“It’s been on fire,” said Jason Hurley, assistant store manager of the Hat Shack at Concord Mills. “It flies off our shelves. It’s one of our top sellers.”
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton memorably donned a Charlotte Hornets cap while sitting courtside next to Michael Jordan in the Bobcats home opener in December – a Bobcats victory. Rap artist Fabolous wore a Hornets hat and teal shirt while performing in Charlotte for the Jordan Brand Classic this month. It “just felt right,” the rapper tweeted.

The dollar impact of the old brand’s return is difficult to determine.

NBA-licensed apparel brought in $3.1 billion last year, said Matt Powell, analyst for sports retail tracking firm SportScanInfo. The Charlotte Bobcats ranked last in the league in sales, with $50 million. By comparison, the Los Angeles Lakers sold $682 million, according to the firm’s data.

The league hasn’t released figures about defunct teams like the Charlotte Hornets, and the NBA wouldn’t comment.
This much is clear: the Hornets’ resurgence is nationwide.

“It’s kind of a retro trend,” said Ira Mayer of EPM Communications, which regularly publishes a sports licensing report. Old team logos are in demand, he said. “People are starting to license them more heavily.”

In 2010, the Charlotte Hornets brand still created about $1 million in “impact value,” according to online marketing firm General Sentiment. The number is based on the brand’s exposure in the news and on social media sites.

In Charlotte, the comeback is tied to fond memories of the team the city was quick to embrace.

“When people see the items in retail stores, they get excited about it because it’s in a lot of people’s past,” said Jeff Brown, 28, who bought a Hornets hat on Thursday. “I grew up with the Hornets.”

Snapbacks and tattoos
The Hornets entered the league in the 1988-89 season as professional basketball was rising to the peak of its popularity.
With a roster anchored by 5-foot-3 Muggsy Bogues, Larry “Grandmama” Johnson, and Alonzo Mourning, the team led the NBA in attendance in eight seasons at the Charlotte Coliseum on Tyvola Road.

The Hornets purple-and-teal became a fashion craze around the country, the team’s Starter jackets and snapback hats found everywhere from elementary school bus stops to the Bronx.

But in a messy departure, owner George Shinn took the franchise to New Orleans in 2002.

Charlotte native Scotty Kent said the renaissance began about four years ago. He came across a fitted Charlotte Hornets hat on an obscure urban fashion website, bought it, and threw it in the back of his car. Before long, nearly a dozen people had stopped him to ask him about it.
“I had a guy offer me $100 for the hat in the middle of an intersection,” he said.

The ’90s retro look – think “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” – was back.

“The Charlotte Hornets hat has just exploded,” said Kent, who launched a campaign known as Bring Back the Buzz aimed at convincing the Bobcats to take back the name. “It’s insane. It’s everywhere.”

Shinn sold the New Orleans team to the NBA in December 2010. With that sale, a little buzz around the name was rekindled. Now the New Orleans Hornets’ owner, Tom Benson, says he wants to shed the team’s name in favor of something with a Big Easy feel – and that has fueled more demand for the purple and teal.
“A few years back, it was kind of hard for you to get your hands on it. People were forced to online shop,” said Ade Vanderhorst, 29, a Charlotte hip-hop artist and songwriter who uses the stage name Royal-Tee. He counts hats, T-shirts, jackets, bobbleheads and even a tattoo in his Hornets collection.
“Now, it’s so socially accepted to the point where you even see celebrities on TV (wearing a Hornets hat).”

Cashing out
Jordan and the Bobcats management haven’t commented on whether they would consider a name change for the team – whose 7-56 record is the worst in the NBA. Changing the name could take two years and cost $10 million.

Meanwhile, the vintage purple and teal keeps selling.

At Lids in SouthPark, manager Adrian Splawn had to have Charlotte Hornets hats rerouted to his store from others in the chain just to keep up.
National brands are diving in as well. Adidas sells Charlotte Hornets shirts, including a throwback Johnson shirt.
LeBron James launched a purple-and-teal Nike shoe last month, nominally based on his former youth basketball team but doubtlessly inspired by the resurgence of the Charlotte brand.

The day it was released, March 31, it sold out from the House of Hoops by Reebok store in SouthPark Mall.

Vanderhorst said he recently wandered in to a store in the Bronx and saw the selection dominated by purple and teal.

“I saw more Charlotte Hornets snapbacks in this one particular store than any other team,” he said. “People are willing to spend 25, 30, 40 dollars for a vintage piece with the Charlotte Hornets on it. It has a lot to do with the colors; it has a lot to do with what that team meant to the city.”
The resale market has been active as well.

A search for “Charlotte Hornets” on brings up 1,600 items. On EBay, there are more than 3,000. In Charlotte, vintage Hornets items are posted on Craigslist every day.

Ryan Dulina, 28, has sold several Hornets items in recent months, including a prized jacket.
“I paid $120 for the jacket years and years ago,” Dulina said. “I think I made more when I sold it than I paid when I bought it.”

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2 Comments on “New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson buys New Orleans Hornets from NBA for $338 million. Sacramento’s new NBA arena deal crumbles. Will Charlotte get the Hornets name back? Will Seattle or Kansas City land a NBA franchise?”

  1. Tone Capone Says:

    The city of Charlotte was very much alive when they had the Hornets.


  2. Tone Capone Says:

    I did’nt know the Hornets got there name from a page during the revolutionary war. Good stuff!


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