SBD/May 2, 2011/Franchises

Hornets Officials Face Tough Offseason While Trying To Steady The Franchise

Hornets sold at least 7,600 tickets during two-week playoff run
The Hornets this offseason will face the "ongoing ultimatum of improving the franchise’s financial situation to make it a more attractive investment for a potential owner, identifying that potential owner, negotiating a more favorable, extended lease agreement with the state, increasing the season-ticket base and attracting additional corporate sponsors while maintaining those already on board," according to Jimmy Smith of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. The "grueling task of achieving those ... goals, already under way, can now shift into overdrive" for Chair Jac Sperling, who was appointed by NBA Commissioner David Stern to run the Hornets. After the Lakers eliminated the Hornets from the playoffs, Sperling said, "I wouldn’t say there’s an order to it. It’s consistent in that they all have to be done simultaneously. And then the ultimate goal is increasing the financial performance of the club so that we can make it attractive for a local buy. That’s the ultimate goal here. Making it attractive for a local buyer and putting it on sound financial footing for long-term sustainability. We’re making good progress on those fronts. We’re not there yet, but we’re making really good progress." Smith noted while the team's "surprising six-game run in the first round of the playoffs against the Lakers sparked interest, Sperling isn’t ready to quantify just how many tickets were sold during the two-week postseason euphoria." The Hornets last week said that the "number was around 7,600." Sperling said that the playoff push "revealed the potential for positive long-term viability for the franchise in New Orleans." Since assuming control of the organization in December, Sperling "has seen an internal commitment within his organization’s staff to meet the challenges that confronted it while taking steps to run the franchise -- on Stern’s mandate -- in a fiscally responsible way, on budget, and maintaining its competitive edge" on the court (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 5/1).
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