The NBA-owned New Orleans Hornets last week hit their season-ticket sales goal of 10,000, but the team still faces some business challenges as it positions itself to be sold in the wake of the league’s new labor deal.
|“There are multiple groups interested” in the Hornets, Chairman Jac Sperling says.
The Hornets announced Dec. 8 that they had passed the 10,000 mark for full-season tickets. The benchmark of 10,000 had been set to show potential buyers that there is sufficient local support for the franchise. New Orleans’ all-time high for season tickets sold is 10,400, coming in 2008-09.
The Hornets had 6,300 season-ticket holders last season.
The league’s new collective-bargaining agreement, which was expected to be formally approved last week, is helping to stoke the team-sale process, as well.
“Obviously a lot of [potential buyers] want to see what the CBA is,” Sperling said, declining to name the number of potential buyers. “A purchase could have happened without [a new CBA], but it helps give definition.”
The NBA bought the Hornets last December for more than $300 million from former owner George Shinn. Last season, the team posted an average attendance of 14,709 fans a game, fifth-lowest in the 30-team NBA.
The team is still looking to secure a long-term lease extension for state-owned New Orleans Arena. The Hornets’ lease runs through the 2013-14 season and comes with a provision that allows the club to relocate if average attendance drops below 14,735 over two years, provided that the team pays the state a $10 million fee.
In addition, the Hornets now have five top-level Crescent City partners, with each deal worth at least $1 million annually.