SBD/February 16, 2011/Franchises

Stern Acknowledges Suitors For Hornets, But Prefers To Keep Team In New Orleans

Stern says NBA is surprisingly uninvolved in Hornets operations
NBA Commissioner David Stern appeared on ESPN's "The B.S. Report" podcast with Bill Simmons Monday, and he said there is "no shortage of suitors" for the Hornets "who want to buy the team and take it someplace else." But Stern added moving the team "would not be our first choice at all." Stern: "We're going to make it unattractive to move it or contract it." Stern said you would be "surprised at how uninvolved" the NBA is in running the Hornets. He said the "only place" the league gets involved is "advice on ticket sales, groups, renewals." He noted the team "sets the budget and we approve it." Stern said of the NBA's ownership of the Hornets, "I think it's great that this hasn't gotten a lot of coverage. ... It's not a big story. Actually, it's rather commonplace when you think about it. We just follow the crowd. Baseball took over the Montreal Expos, the NHL took over the Coyotes and we stepped in to make sure that the Hornets would be well operated and be made stronger." Simmons asked, "So that was your reason because you were convinced that the team could no longer be well operated?" Stern: "Yes, absolutely, because there was no more money that the principal owner was going to put into the team." Meanwhile, Stern said the league has "had visits from" Seattle, Las Vegas, Anaheim and Vancouver about getting an NBA franchise. Stern said Seattle is a "very prime city for an NBA franchise" when the city "has plans for a new building." Stern also noted the league has been "contacted by three different groups that are putting up a building in Las Vegas." Stern: "There are lots of potential cities but our goal here is to keep all teams where they are, but recognizing that that is a goal we haven't successfully achieved in the past" ("The B.S. Report,", 2/14).

TAKING A CLOSE LOOK: The GLOBE & MAIL's Matthew Sekeres cites sources as saying that Canucks Chair Francesco Aquilini is "inspecting the Hornets." One source said that Aquilini "would require partners to finance a purchase, but that the NBA is impressed with the family's stewardship of the Canucks" (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/16).
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