With the attendance soaring as it is it wouldn't be surprising for the Hornets to actually stay in Oklahoma City. Now it's becoming official. Owner George Shinn is looking for buyers to partial rights of the team. Had New Orleans been intact, the same conclusion might have been reached.
But with the city in its dilapidated state, the choice becomes much easier. The Hornets were dead last in attendance last year, which actually regressed from when they were in Charlotte. In Oklahoma City, they are 10th in attendance-a true before and after scenario. The same team (more-or-less) drew nobody to the stands in New Orleans last year. The team is 11-13 so far, which is 9 games better than they were at this point last season.
There are 10 teams currently with better records than the Hornets who have less attendance than they do.On December 16th, the Hornets played their first game in Louisiana since Katrina, at Baton Rouge in the LSU Tiger's stadium. The attendance was 7302, the lowest single-game total of the year. Whether it was because of "traffic issues" like Shinn said or the Hornets fans just being adamant about attending games, the Hornets just don't work in New Orleans. Regardless of whatever obligation this team may feel to return to New Orleans, the NBA is a business, and they flat out aren't making any in Louisiana.The Hornets will play another 5 games in Baton Rouge this year, and hope to play 3 games in the not-as-damaged-as-we-originally-thought New Orleans Arena.
An interesting side note is the Hornet's contract with the city of New Orleans. If they go and play those 3 games in New Orleans, they'll technically be required to move back their for next year, assuming the city is able to support them at that time.A pro basketball team in Oklahoma City has only existed for 3 months, and yet they're in the top 10 in season tickets sold.
Financially, staying put is far safer than where they could be. Too many variables could detract from the Hornets next year if they were to move back. At full strength, they barely produce a profit; with New Orleans' population sliced into sections, it's unlikely and imprudent that the Hornets will play there next year. Even George Shinn knows that.
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