It was announced that the Hornets are revamping their “I’m In!” campaign to help try and get 2,000 more fans to sign up for season tickets to reach a goal of 10,000. The new campaign will have current season ticket holders host parties/gatherings trying to convince fans of the benefits of being “In.”
Over the past few days this news (if it can be deemed new) has rubbed a few people the wrong way. Jack Sperling, the caretaker for the Hornets, said that, “if you make the 10,000 season-ticket level, then someone who is willing to purchase the team for a lot of money is going to be more inclined to do it.” Many fans are intimidated by this benchmark, holding back because of the large uncertainty surrounding the organisation. Their view is that they won’t invest, until someone else does.
And that’s the kicker, people are holding back from being season ticket holders because they feel as if the organisation is slapping them across the face. Yet, I don’t see it as such. While it can be an expensive investment, it’s one worth putting money into. Yes there could be a lockout, we don’t have an owner, the team could move. But a lot of those uncertainties are based on the very benchmark which needs to be achieved.
Most people will be reluctant to buy tickets, I understand that, but hypothetically speaking, if a family of four buys season tickets and then the team moves who’s to say you won’t get a refund? What if you buy the tickets and there’s a lockout? Again…I’m sure you’ll get a refund.
As a person looking from the outside, I find it very unsettling that there is such a big hostility shown towards the Hornets organisation no matter what they do. While we all want there to be a local owner, who’s willing to spend, with a long-term lease agreement and a great TV deal, it takes time for these things to happen.
Not An Overnight Job
These things don’t happen overnight and to expect ANYONE to step up and invest in a team without a proper business model is unfeasible. The counter-argument to this is that the same should be then said of fans. While I think this is somewhat true, it is the fans support and investment that builds the foundations for the organisation, and if that’s not there, then any investor trying to keep the team in New Orleans becomes obsolete.
Seeing teams like the Sacramento Kings fight just to stay in their city with owners having interests lying elsewhere makes me somewhat appreciate the situation we are in. If you proposed to all Kings fans that all they had to do, to keep their team in their city for at least the next 20 years was that they’d need 10,000 season ticket holders, then I can assure you they’d fill that up in a number of weeks. The fact that some New Orleans fans still hold disdain towards the Hornets after they could have moved to Oklahoma City or after George Shinn could have sold the team for more money to a guy who wanted to move them to San Jose, is still troubling to me.
While the team still has a long ways to go before they root themselves into the New Orleanian culture (I still don’t get why people are so against the Hornets brand, it’s not like “The Pelicans” would be any better…) the organisation is doing things to make them very much part of the community and weekly events. I firmly believe that this organisation does more for their season ticket holders than any other franchise in the entire league. They hold events regularly that involve players, local food, local music, and a good way to meet new people. Their Lagniappe reward scheme is great that rewards Season Ticket Holders with great events such as Chalk Talk with Dell Demps, sitting next to Sean Kelly and Gerry V at a game or even going on a roadtrip with the team.
It does sound like I’m cramming down positives aspects of the franchise, but the reason I’m doing it is that there’s so many people who proclaim themselves as Hornets fans, yet aren’t willing to do their part.
If the Hornets get their 10,000 season ticket holders there won’t be any excuse the NBA and Jack Sperling can use for failure to sell the team to a local buyer. Businesses should see the large fan interest, should see the opportunity waiting at their door step. There are already ways in which businesses can get involved through the Hornets organisation, that let’s them make more business connections and develop relationships, such as the Bee2Bee program.
Holding hostility towards the NBA and the Hornets organisation is something that I’ve just never understood. People need to understand that this isn’t so much holding the fans for ransom as it is just building a proper business model for local investors. Ten thousand season ticket holders is a lot (it seems like it would be in the top 10) but it is achievable. So why the hostility? Is it really that far-fethced, difficult and to much to as for another 2000 more season ticket holders?
I think the initiative is good. If anything it gets the Hornets name out in the public more at a time where it probably wouldn’t be. There’s very little time before the season is over and all you hear from the NBA is “lockout this and that.” Getting this started now, while a top notch NBA finals is going on, is the right thing to do. It seems somewhat likely that a new CBA won’t be reached before July 1 (because Derek Fisher is acting like a moron, but more on that later). The Hornets organisation needs to do this now, even if people are very sceptical of its purposes.