David Stern Talks Hornets and Plan to Keep The NBA In New Orleans

David Stern talks about the New Orleans Hornets and their prospects of remaining in the city.

Today I was listening to the B.S. Report, a Bill Simmons radio show on ESPN and his guest was David Stern. They talked all things CBA, how things are going, certain issues here or there and Simmons touched up on one of his favourite discussion points, Eliminiating Small Market Teams. 

Now it must be noted that Simmons is anti-Small Markets. He looks at the NBA and see’s New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Dallas and Chicago. That’s it. The interview was very interesting because he pushed all the right buttons when asking Stern about it, and he was upfront.

Hat Tip goes to Chris_G for this piece of news. 

Bill Simmons: Why aren’t there more big market teams and less small markets?

David Stern: I would say that, then there wouldn’t be big markets anymore, they’d be split markets. You don’t know for sure what the impact of this is of having additional teams in the one big market is. There’s an interest in having a national league, represented on a national basis. Rather than having all of your teams in the LA greater area or greater New York area.

B.S.: Yeah but why wouldn’t I buy a team for Anaheim where I’d have a greater chance of success than New Orleans or Memphis, or to buying a second Chicago team as opposed to a team in New Orleans or Memphis?

D.S.: The fact of the matter is that New Orleans, we’re now approaching 9000 season tickets, we’re looking at a new cable deal, we’re having a very large impact on sponsorships, there’s a state subsidy looking to be continued and when we complete all of that, the team will be, not a small market team in terms of revenue and there’ll be a very good chance of a buyer saying “I want that team and I want it in that market.”

B.S.: Yeah, but it’s been over a year and no one has said that.

D.S.: Of course not, we want to get it ready for that stage. We’ve already had four of five people come forward but we’ve had to tell them no, we’re going to wait till we finish all of that stuff and get a new CBA.

The discussion went into other things namely the CBA and other stuff, but then it shifted back to contraction, something that Simmons pushes hard for.

B.S.: New Orleans which is already owned by the NBA and Sacramento who can barely raise the funds for payroll, there is two candidates right there.

D.S.: Well to be fair New Orleans is actually going to be a top-15 grossing team that when it has 10,000 season tickets, together with an expression of support from the state then I’m not so sure they are indeed a candidate for contraction. (Goes on to defend Sacramento).

So, it was a very good interview, one that offered insight into the daily life of business with Stern. He has a lot of things to worry about and it’s good to see he’s trying to at least focus on this CBA deal.

What do we make of all this discussion, particularly related to the Hornets?

First off, it seems that Stern actually does see New Orleans as a viable NBA market. People that disagree with me in this assessment are just pessimistic beyond belief. We are making progress in New Olreans, you have to like the fact that we’re getting near to 9000, Stern likes that.

There’s some new information in there though, things that haven’t been brought to light before. A new TV deal is in the cards so to a new lease agreement. They want to continue the subsidy from the state, which seems likely too.

Now, this all could be spin, but doesn’t it seem more plausible if it were just facts? I mean, doesn’t it seem realistic that a new TV deal is possible? What about a new lease agreement too? I know it’s easy to write this off as Stern trying to boost up a good thing, but that is his job after all. If he wanted the team to leave he could easily stop all the campaign stuff for new season tickets, he could quite easily pull out Jac Sperling and he could quite easily get the owners to vote to either contract the team or move, but he hasn’t.

Also it seems apparent that there are people willing to step up and invest in the team. Whether they are local owners or foreign ones remains to be seen. I do hope that he is referring to Gary Chouest and Morris Bart (and others) and all signs point to it being them.

The second part continues on to Stern defending New Orleans against Simmons (who is a big-market homer). Nothing new is really in that.

Hopefully this quenches your thirst (Joe) for NBA and Hornets related news. Go and check out the podcast it really is a great listen. Stern talks about his relationship with Billy Hunter, how he’s hell-bent on getting a deal done before the season. He seems cautiously optimistic. But I sensed a lot of worry in his voice when Bill started talking about a cut-off date before they had to cancel the season.

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Tags: Billy Hunter David Stern Gary Chouest Morris Bart New Orleans Hornets

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