SBD/Issue 162/Franchises

Hornets' Playoff Run Brings Team Close To Breaking Even

Hornets Could Come Close To Breaking
Even With Extended Playoff Run
The Hornets' playoff run will help the organization "come close to breaking even this season, an almost unimaginable prospect six months ago, when the team was struggling to sell tickets and generate fan support," according to Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. Hornets Dir of Communications Harold Kaufman said that the team "likely will fall just short of reaching the black because [Hornets Owner George] Shinn has continued to invest in players and marketing during the postseason." Kaufman added that game-night sales of Hornets merchandise during the playoffs have increased 64% compared to the regular season. Hornets President Hugh Weber: "More casual fans are drawn to the game during the playoffs. It really becomes a hot ticket, and they want to come and experience it." But Hornets officials said that the "playoff payoff isn't the financial windfall some might think." The NBA takes a 45% share of postseason ticket revenue, up from 6% during the regular season, and the Hornets "must give about a third of what's left of their playoff ticket revenue to the state as part of their" amended lease agreement. Weber said of playoff success, "There's almost a direct correlation between the farther you go in the playoffs the better you do in future sales." Kaufman said that the team has sold "more than 2,600 new season tickets" for the '08-09 season, and also has "enjoyed a renewal rate of 90[%] from their base of 6,500 season-ticket holders this season." Of New Orleans Arena's approximate 7,850 lower-bowl seats, only 1,600 remain unsold for next season." Duncan notes the financial boost of the playoffs "also will benefit the state, which could realize as much as $1[M] in savings on its annual inducement payment to the club" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 5/13).

BAYOU BOOM: In New Orleans, Jaquetta White writes anything with the Hornets' logo or their players' names "has become increasingly popular." The "most popular seller has been anything with [G] Chris Paul's name and number on it." Because Paul's jerseys have been "hard to come by lately, jersey T-shirts are now hot sellers." NBA figures indicate that the Hornets are the "third top-selling team for merchandise" during the playoffs, as opposed to the regular season when the team was not in the top 10. Also, Paul's No. 3 jersey is the "third most popular" at and the NBA Store in N.Y., up from 15th during the regular season. Facility Merchandising Inc. GM Wally Cox, whose company operates the team's store in New Orleans Arena, said that division championship merchandise is the biggest seller at the shop (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 5/13).

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