Team exec insists Hornets are in New Orleans to stay

Team exec insists Hornets are in New Orleans to stay
October 19, 2011
Sporting News

The New Orleans Hornets, since they’re now under NBA ownership, are seen by some sports business experts as the most logical candidate for contraction, should the league take the drastic step of eliminating a team. But Jac Sperling, the New Orleans native appointed by commissioner David Stern to run the franchise, believes the Hornets have long-term viability in the city and says there are numerous suitors lining up to buy the franchise.

Sperling, in an interview with the Times-Picayune, said the team is moving closer to its goal of selling 10,000 season tickets. In fact, he said, the Hornets have sold more season tickets than any other NBA team this summer. Once the ticket goal is achieved, he believes, the team will be able to introduce a new owner and a new lease with the city simultaneously. The lease will not include an exit clause, meaning the Hornets will stay in New Orleans throughout its term length.
Jac Sperling is the NBA's choice to oversee the Hornets. (AP Photo)

”The lease will have a term and the team will be required to stay here through that term,” Sterling said.

“We’ve started having conversations with potential owners already. The number of potential owners has grown. I think the commissioner mentioned there were four or five, and I think the number has increased a little bit (by two or three). There are some potential owners who live in New Orleans. But all of them understand that they would be buying a team that would have a long-term lease here. And that’s the goal—to extend the lease to a long-term agreement with the state as part of finding an owner.”

Sterling said a resolution to the labor situation is “not a prerequisite” to a sale. “I think we want to have conversations (with potential owners) now. It’s a dynamic situation, to see how things play themselves out. But in general, they’re moving in parallel.”

The Hornets, as of last weekend, had sold 9,217 season tickets, after starting with a base of 6,300 when the league took the team over 10 months ago. “That’s an incredible result, especially in light of all the adversity we’ve got swirling around us,” Sperling said.

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