NBA: New Orleans Hornets on The Move to The City Of Vancouver?
Rumours are rampant once again that the National Basketball Association could return to the city of Vancouver.
NBA commissioner David Stern appeared on ESPN.com's podcast The B.S. Report with Bill Simmons and indicated the association has had discussion with a group from Vancouver.
“We’ve had visits from, believe it or not, Vancouver, where the Canucks are absolutely doing a spectacular job,” Stern told Simmons.
"I have regrets about both Seattle and Vancouver."
Is the interested party Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini and Canucks Sports & Entertainment or is it another group?
Aquilini told the QMI Agency back in January that the NBA could come to Vancouver the next day because the infrastructure was already in place, but he didn't want to hurt the business of the Canucks.
“We still have the floor, the hoops are here, everything's here, you could start tomorrow, you wouldn't have to make any new capital investments,” Aquilini told QMI. “We've got a really good thing going with hockey here, to bring an NBA team you could jeopardize that.”
“We heard stories of how the (Grizzlies) players didn't want to play here. Vancouver's not culturally a basketball town. Vancouver's a hockey town. Maybe one day in the future. The economy is growing, Vancouver is 50 percent bigger than it was 10 years ago, there could come a point in time where we could really look at that seriously.”
Canucks Sports & Entertainment Chief Operating Officer Victor DeBonis sounded more optimistic when reached for comment by the Vancouver Province.
"Whether it's basketball or whatever opportunities, we'd be doing a disservice to our fans and potential fans if we're not looking at ways to build the business and enhance the fan experience," DeBonis said.
"We're looking at event opportunities all the time. The city is growing. The demographics are very broad. The demand may be there for alternative opportunities.
"I think the challenge is that the affinity for basketball isn't as widespread as hockey," DeBonis added. "First and foremost, our priority is with the hockey team. That is our primary business. We have a very, very solid foundation there, and we never want to lose focus."
Back in May 2009, it was reported by the TEAM 1040 in Vancouver that Aquilini had expressed interest in buying the Indiana Pacers and moving them to Vancouver if they were unable to secure a lease with the city of Indianapolis for Conseco Fieldhouse.
That didn't materialize as the Pacers and Indianapolis were able to negotiate a new lease.
The Globe and Mail now reports Aquilini and Canucks Sports & Entertainment have their eyes set on the New Orleans Hornets and are "inspecting" the team.
The NBA bought the team from Gary Chouest and George Shinn after they concluded they were no longer financially capable of running the team.
The Hornets have an escape clause in their lease at New Orleans Arena with the State of Louisiana.
The team could have left after the end of this season, but fans were able to meet minimum season ticket requirements to keep the team until at least 2013. The team can escape from it's lease again in 2013 and the lease expires in 2014.
Commissioner David Stern has maintained that he wishes to keep the Hornets in New Orleans, but there must be a strong ownership.
If the Hornets were to move, the city of Vancouver is darkhorse candidate.
The NBA is without a presence in the Pacific Northwest and Stern has regrets about Vancouver and Seattle.
The infrastructure is already in place in Vancouver and placing a team in that city could possibly ease the bitterness of fans in Seattle for the loss of the SuperSonics.
Preseason NBA games, most recently the Toronto Raptors and Phoenix Suns, have come to Vancouver and sold out as well.
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