The New Orleans Hornets are now the sixth best team in NBA according to ticket sales compiled by the Streets and Smith Sports Business Journal.
On Oct. 18, the Hornets of the National Basketball Association moved to Oklahoma City temporairly for the 2005-2006 season, agreeing to play 35 home games in Fords Center, due to damage that was done their home stadium,
However, Hornets owner George Shinn stressed that the move was only temporary. ”Our goal is to come back,” he told ESPN.com on Oct. 20. ”People in New Orleans accepted us in a positive way, and I have to return the favor. We’re going to do our part to make that city come back."
But, it might make more sense or “cents” to stay in Oklahoma City. As part of the agreement if the Hornets do not make 5 percent more in local revenue than it made in New Orleans last season, taxpayers and local businessmen in Oklahoma City agreed to pay the team as much as $10 million.
Since moving to New Orleans from Charlotte in 2002, the Hornets season attendance average has never reached above 16,000. Instead their average attendance has declined two consecutive years, dropping to 14,332 in the 2003-2004 season from 15,650 the year before. During the 2002-2003 season game attendance fell to last place in the league after an 18 win season.
However, at the Hornets season opener on Nov. 1, the 19,163 capacity FordCenter was sold-out. The last time Hornets saw attendance like that was in Charlotte during the early 1990s. Some of the excitement comes from Oklahoma not having any professional teams. And fans believe that attendance for the other 34 home games in Oklahoma City will not wavier either.
“We love it that they are here. Everyone around the city can’t wait to go to games,” said excited fan and Oklahoma City resident Marcus Kent.
But even if the Hornets don’t stay in Oklahoma, University of Oklahoma student Philip Byrd believes that there short stay is important. ”It gives Oklahoma a chance to show to other franchises that we can support a professional team.”
Due to the success of the team’s move and fan support, NBA Commissioner David Stern told ESPN on Nov. 9, that Oklahoma City has become the “favorite location if a team were to relocate.”