SBD/Jan. 17, 2011/Franchises

NBA Franchise Notes: League Hopes To Keep Hornets In N.O.

NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver Friday said that no matter how the Hornets "fare with the benchmark requirement in their current lease agreement with the state, the league's primary emphasis is the long-term viability of the franchise" in New Orleans. Silver: "I think the particular benchmark this season is less relevant to that. ... The numbers are what they are and we'll see. I know there is a concerted effort to put people in the seats in New Orleans. Whatever the math is that's what we'll be in terms of the benchmark." In New Orleans, John Reid noted the league "will be monitoring closely the progress of season-ticket renewals and overall season-ticket sales for next season, which will be launched soon" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 1/15).

HOME UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Nets CEO Brett Yormark noted the "first-level concourse is being erected" at Barclays Center, which is scheduled to open next year. Yormark: "Steel's coming out of the ground. It's very tangible. We're no longer preaching the gospel. Within time, world-class entertainment and sports will be in Brooklyn." Nuggets F Carmelo Anthony's name has been mentioned in trade rumors with the Nets, and Yormark said, "In a market like New York, you need stars to be relevant. The new owners, they understand that." Yormark added Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov "has given everybody in my office and our organization, a bit of swagger" (ESPN.com, 1/15).

UNHAPPY WITH THE COMMISH: In L.A, Mark Heisler cited sources as quoting Clippers Owner Donald Sterling as saying he "would fire" NBA Commissioner David Stern during an "exchange in an owners meeting in Las Vegas a year or so ago." Sterling was quoted as saying to Stern, "You're great at marketing, but you're not tough enough with the union." Heisler: "Sterling "doesn't head a cabal -- and no one would follow in any case -- but many owners are as mad, with better reason." Sterling "has made at least $75 million in 10 seasons in Staples Center," and the amount is "probably closer to twice that" (L.A. TIMES, 1/16).

INVESTOR SEARCH: In Louisville, Dan Klepal reported attorney Bruce Miller, "who has been hired by the Louisville Metro Council to try to find an ownership group that would buy" an NBA team and move it to the city, said that the "primary investor he has been dealing with has requested more information about Louisville's ability to support a pro team." Miller "had hoped that the investor group would sign a letter of intent by the end of December, stating that they were in the hunt for a franchise to play in Freedom Hall." However, Miller said that has not happened because the group asked him for "concepts of what it would take to operate an NBA team in this city." Miller is being "paid with $89,000 appropriated by the metro council for his effort to find a group willing to invest between" $400-700M. Miller said that the information requested "has been sent to the unnamed investor group" last week, along with "information about franchises that might be available for purchase" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 1/15).
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