SBD/March 21, 2012/Franchises

Bobcats Struggling On And Off The Court To Keep Fan, Media Attention

Bobcats last Sunday practiced in front of three reporters, while most covered UNC
Basketball emotions in North Carolina “are dominated by the state’s college teams,” which leaves the Bobcats “as a vehicle for fan entertainment, although not many who follow the team are necessarily living and dying with the results,” according to Robert Weintraub of the N.Y. TIMES. The contrast in loyalties in the state “was starkly apparent” last Sunday when the Bobcats “practiced in front of three reporters.” The rest of the state’s news media “was in Greensboro, 90 miles up Interstate 85, where North Carolina was playing in the second round of the NCAA tournament and where Duke would have been playing, too, if it had not been upset by Lehigh on Friday night.” From the outside, it appears that Bobcats Owner Michael Jordan “is well on his way to leading his second NBA team into difficulties.” But he has “seemingly benefited from low expectations in Charlotte, profiting from the negative reputations of the previous two owners of the Charlotte NBA franchise.” When the George Shinn-owned Hornets left for New Orleans in ‘02, the “general feeling in town was good riddance, given the toxic effect of Shinn’s miserly methods and the fact that he had been the target of a sexual-assault lawsuit.” Former Bobcats Owner Bob Johnson also “quickly wore out his welcome, failing, among other sins, to deliver on a promised television network for the team.” Jordan became the majority owner in ‘10 and has since “made an effort to be around the team and the city” (N.Y. TIMES, 3/21).

NO PRICE HIKE: Bobcats Exec VP and Chief Sales & Marketing Officer Pete Guelli said that ticket prices “will be flat next season, meaning fans should get a slightly better product for the same price” in ‘12-13. In Charlotte, Erik Spanberg notes the team “cut prices for three years before raising and lowering some tickets for the current season.” The Bobcats have the NBA’s “worst record thus far in 2011-12” and with estimated “losses off the court of $25 million last season, the Bobcats and their fans could use some good news in the months ahead” (CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 3/16 issue).
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