SBD/January 6, 2011/Franchises

Larry Ellison Says He Tried To Buy Hornets, Was Outbid By NBA

Ellison claims his $350M offer for Hornets was slightly below NBA's purchase price

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison confirmed yesterday that he "recently failed" in an attempt to buy the Hornets, fewer than six months after his "surprising loss in a bidding war" for the Warriors, according to Brandon Bailey of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. Ellison said he was "slightly outbid" by the NBA, which last month bought the Hornets from George Shinn and Gary Chouest. Ellison: "I did offer $350 million." Ellison's comments followed a Forbes report claiming that he "planned to buy the team and move it to San Jose." Ellison said that he "had not made up his mind about what to do with the Hornets, had he been able to buy them." Ellison: "I was trying to buy the team first, and then figure out what I was going to do with it." If Ellison did move a team to San Jose, it potentially "could become roommates" with the Sharks at HP Pavilion. Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment Exec VP/Business Operations Malcolm Bordelon yesterday said that he is "aware of the speculation and that the Sharks' owners were 'by all means' interested in sharing the arena with a pro basketball team." Bordelon said the Sharks have had "virtually no discussions" with Ellison, but added, "We are obviously open to having those discussions." Joe Lacob, who along with Peter Guber outbid Ellison for the Warriors, yesterday "seemed to suggest that he would not be eager to share that market with another team." Lacob in an e-mail said, "We bought the Golden State Warriors; that is, the NBA team of Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco, the Bay Area. We feel that we paid a full but fair price for THAT opportunity" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 1/6).

SECOND CHANCE: In the original report, FORBES' Mike Ozanian cited a source as saying that Ellison "would be more than happy to pony up $450 million for the Hornets," including a relocation fee due to the Warriors estimated to be $100-150M, "given the improved economics for NBA teams that will be the result" of the new CBA (FORBES.com, 1/5). CSNBAYAREA.com's Ray Ratto said, "There's another piece to this and that is that Ellison loathes the fact that he didn't get the Warriors. He thinks he got gamed, and he's very angry with Lacob and Guber for getting the team" ("Chronicle Live," Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 1/5).

ROOT FOR THE HOME TEAM? In Oakland, Dave Newhouse writes now is an "opportune time to rename" the Warriors to carry Oakland, and not Golden State, in their name. The change is "long overdue -- 39 seasons in Oakland to be exact." Lacob and Guber are "reluctant to make this change, leaving themselves open to moving the team one day," and they have "already alluded to this possibility." Newhouse: "Going back to San Francisco? Relocating to San Jose? These rumors are out there constantly. ... Oakland is the best place for the Warriors, by all degrees of sanity. Why Lacob and Guber can't see this is beyond all reason. Who'd want to watch these odorous Warriors elsewhere?" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 1/6).

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Franchises, NBA, New Orleans Pelicans

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