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Old 10-27-2009, 10:50 AM   #1
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Default New Orleans Hornets encouraged by ticket sales trends

Amid a nationwide economic downturn, sports fans in this area are still seeking out ways to escape their anxieties for a few hours.

The Hornets are the beneficiaries of a loyal fan base that continues to buy tickets in a way that a year ago went against the NBA norm, though Hornets officials say 2009 purchasing patterns are slightly different.

"Last year, we sold more season tickets than any other team in history from the previous summer and surpassed the 10,000 total, which is an industry benchmark, " team president Hugh Weber said. "This year, we've seen a more deliberate approach in purchasing habits but are seeing trends that project us to having similar levels as last year.

"Over the past few months, we've seen tremendous growth in the area of group ticket sales. We are also seeing a positive trend on single-game tickets, so we're anticipating more sellouts at the Arena this season. But the types of products we sell to get there may be a little different than last year."

Tickets can be purchased at the customary outlets, including the Hornets box office, Ticketmaster and the team's Web site.

A year ago, the Hornets had 22 sellouts at the 17,000-seat New Orleans Arena -- the most in any season since relocating from Charlotte, N.C., in 2002 -- drawing 695,727 fans, an average of 16,969.

Hornets owner George Shinn has expressed his pleasure with the way tickets sales have advanced leading up to Friday night's home opener against the Sacramento Kings.

"I think there are a lot of teams that are hurting, no question about it, " Shinn said recently. "I'm in contact with the league office and the people from the league discussing it. One of the things that happened with us is it hasn't been great, but we haven't suffered like some of the other people.

"Our sponsorship sales are better than last year. A lot of teams are trying just to get flat. We're past that. Our ticket sales are at least as good as they were last year."

Weber, in fact, termed the sponsorship sales growth "incredible.
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