New Orleans Hornets Are in the Final Stretch of Their Attendance Benchmark Run

Kevin NesgodaCorrespondent IJanuary 15, 2011

Most nights the seats in New Orleans this is the scene even when a game starts.
Most nights the seats in New Orleans this is the scene even when a game starts.

The New Orleans business community has recently put thousands of dollars into Hornets ticket sales so they can reach the attendance benchmark by the end of January. This will ensure that the team’s lease is not voided on March 1 and allow the team an easy way out of New Orleans.

NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver yesterday said, "The numbers are what they are and we'll see. I know there is a concerted effort to put people in the seats in New Orleans. Whatever the math is that's what we'll be in terms of the benchmark.''

Some have read into those comments as we’re going to do whatever it takes to keep the team in New Orleans.

I view it another way completely.

This is NBA political speak. The only thing is the long term bottom line for the NBA and New Orleans cannot provide them with the long term financial contributions as a bigger and richer city could provide.

The business community buying up tickets hasn’t put any more butts in the seats. They have just succeeded in artificially inflating the numbers and making the attendance look higher. The NBA doesn’t just care about that. They care about the revenues from parking, concessions and memorabilia sales in and around the stadium.

Those are the numbers a real chunk of revenue comes from. Yes, tickets are more expensive and provide the biggest chunk of the pie, but you can’t fill the pie with air and that is where ancillary revenues from food, beer, parking and jersey sales come into play.

With games against Toronto, Memphis, San Antonio and Oklahoma City before the end of the deadline on January 31st, the Hornets must average 15,122 for those final four games for their lease to stay in place and not become voidable by the team.

Toronto is a 2 p.m. local start on Monday, even though it’s a holiday and a lot of people are going to have the day off, Toronto isn’t a team that puts butts in seats. The Raptors have absolutely no marquee value and you can almost guarantee a very low attendance number, which will drive the average the attendance has to be up over the next three games.

The Memphis game a few days later doesn’t do them any favors, either.

The Hornets are going to need the games against San Antonio and Oklahoma City to be sell outs. The San Antonio game is going to be on a Saturday night and the Saints were eliminated in the playoffs with a team from the same city that really want the Hornets to be their new franchise. The new Seattle Supersonics.

For three years the NBA has been extremely silent about Seattle. After the team moved to Oklahoma City, there wasn’t a peep about the city on or by any of the high ranking officials.

In the past couple of months since the NBA has taken over the Hornets, David Stern has said he would love for Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer to be an owner in the NBA. David Aldridge followed that up with an article stating how much Seattle missed their basketball team, how much Seattle loved basketball and how they deserved to get another team back.

Last week could have been the most telling article with Fran Blinebury flat out saying move the Hornets to Seattle if the city can’t support them.

We are four games away from finding out if the lease stands and then by March 1st we’ll also see where the Hornets season tickets sales are for the next season. With a lockout looming sales have been a little bit slow for all teams next season.

This is the final countdown for New Orleans and their chances for keeping the Hornets in the city.

I know a lot of people in Seattle ready to buy a Sonics CP3 and Quincy Pondexter jersey.

I also know a lot of people who will buy Sonics season tickets, myself included.