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Old 08-25-2011, 08:49 AM   #1
Copperhead
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Default Hornets support surging despite lockout

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NEW ORLEANS (AP)—The future of the NBA in New Orleans is showing increasing promise, even though fans and businesses pouring money into Hornets tickets and sponsorships have no guarantee that games will be played next season.

As the Hornets introduced Chevron as their fifth million-dollar corporate sponsor on Wednesday, team president Hugh Weber said the franchise is closing in on several goals seen as necessary to ensure pro basketball’s long-term presence in the Big Easy.

Weber said he has been encouraged by gains in community support even as the NBA lockout threatens to cancel parts or all of next season, and as sports fans increasingly turn their attention to the onset of the NFL and college football seasons.

“Momentum is our most valuable commodity, and at a time when no one is talking about basketball, we’re still making progress,” Weber said. “That speaks to how the community feels about the team and how important they feel it is for the team to have a long-term legacy here in New Orleans.”

For now, the Hornets are owned by the NBA, which bought the team last December from founder George Shinn and former minority owner Gary Chouest. NBA Commissioner David Stern has said the league wants to improve the team’s revenue streams to the point where a buyer who is committed to operating the team in Louisiana will step forward.

The Hornets have never had as many as five seven-figure sponsors for a single season, Weber said, adding that the franchise also has prospects for adding a sixth.

Season tickets have reached 8,900, which already represents an increase of 2,600 over last season.

Meanwhile, the club is working toward a new TV contract and new arena lease.

Weber said the primary goal of a new TV deal, which would begin after next season, is to have games televised in more households throughout the region.

http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_yl...ornets-support
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