SBD/Issue 33/Franchises

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  • Stern Not Optimistic About Sonics Staying In Seattle Long-Term

    NBA Commissioner Not Optimistic About
    Sonics Long-Term Future In Seattle
    NBA Commissioner David Stern yesterday "sounded pessimistic" about the Sonics' future in Seattle, and said that his two trips to the city "to promote an arena solution showed 'there was no heart whatsoever for assisting a Sonics team,'" according to Greg Johns of the SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER. Fan group Save Our Sonics President Brian Robinson said Stern "has an obligation to try to influence the politicians. We need him to be part of the process of explaining why this is important and helping convince people to care." While Stern has helped "broker solutions" in other arena conflicts, such as in Sacramento and Vancouver, he indicated that "no such involvement was likely forthcoming in Seattle." Stern said, "In Sacramento the team is a fixture and everybody expressed a desire that they stay, from the city to county to governor. [Seattle] is a completely different situation." Johns notes Stern "sounded resigned" to the possibility that Sonics Owner Clay Bennett could move the team when his ownership group "gets out of the KeyArena lease." Stern: "We'd love to have found a path to see them stay, but right now it seems either they'll be there for the endurance of the lease or not, depending on the outcome [of the legal dispute concerning the lease]" (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 10/26).  In Seattle, Percy Allen notes Stern last year, on behalf of former Sonics Owner Howard Schultz, "found little support in the state capital for plans to renovate KeyArena."  Stern is "standing firmly with the Sonics" after the team last week argued that the city’s suit against them over the KeyArena lease should be sent to binding arbitration (SEATTLE TIMES, 10/26).

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  • Stern Has No Immediate Plans To Punish Thomas, Dolan

    NBA Could Punish Thomas Following
    Conclusion Of Harassment Appeal
    NBA Commissioner David Stern has “no immediate plans to punish” Knicks President of Basketball Operations & coach Isiah Thomas or MSG Chair James Dolan as a result of the Knicks being found liable in former exec Anucha Browne Sanders’ sexual harassment lawsuit, according to Frank Isola of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. However, Stern is “not closing the door entirely on penalizing Thomas and Dolan once the appeal process plays itself out” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/26). Stern called reports that he is considering asking Cablevision Chair Charles Dolan to limit his son's role at MSG “completely fabricated.” Stern “did not admonish Dolan in front of his fellow owners" during Thursday's BOG meeting in N.Y., but he "acknowledged having ‘a number of frank and open discussions’ with [him] during the past year.” After the meeting, Stern “did admonish the Knicks for the public embarrassment stemming from” the harassment lawsuit. Stern: “Show up, play the game, treat your customers well and reconnect. Because it’s a great and storied franchise with a historically good relationship with its fans. And I know they want to maintain that connection and prove that they’re worthy of their fans’ support” (NEWSDAY, 10/26).

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  • Hornets Approaching 6,500 Season-Ticket Sales In New Orleans

    Hornets Closing In On
    6,500 Season-Ticket Base
    The Hornets are "approaching 6,500 season-ticket equivalents sold," below their goal of 10,000 season tickets, but NBA Commissioner David Stern "remains optimistic about the franchise's potential for success in New Orleans this season," according to John Reid of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. Stern said he wants the Hornets "to shatter any notion that it will be worse than it was before." Stern: "They are in a better position economically [than] before Katrina hit, and that to me is the best case and that's very exciting to me. They have moved back and embraced the community." Stern indicated that the Hornets are "seeking to attract fans from various parishes in the metro area," which represents over 1 million residents. Stern: "There's some strange reporting that says New Orleans used to be 400,000 and it's only 200,000. That may be true, but that's not the base as to which the Hornets draw at." Stern will attend Wednesday's Kings-Hornets season-opener at New Orleans Arena. Hornets Dir of Corporate Communications Michael Thompson said that the game is not sold out, but that the team  "plans to make a strong push early next week to get more tickets sold." Meanwhile, the club has sold 54 of 57 suites.  Stern said the NBA is "going to participate in what we think is going to be a terrific rebuilding year for the city," including holding the All-Star Game in New Orleans in February (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 10/26).

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