From a release out of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office this afternoon…
Today, Governor Bobby Jindal was joined by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Hornets Chairman Jac Sperling, Hornets President Hugh Weber, Chairman of the New Orleans Business Council Greg Rusovich, President and CEO of GNO Inc. Michael Hecht and area parish presidents to announce that the Hornets met attendance goals of the 14,735 game average required in the team’s lease to keep them in New Orleans for another year.
Governor Jindal said, “We came together here in December to urge citizens to pack the Hive in support of the Hornets – and they did. Because of the tremendous outpouring of support from this area and all across the state, the Hornets will stay right here for another year. This is great news for the venders, the service industry, the New Orleans tourism industry and all parts of the New Orleans economy that depend on the Hornets and other fan-favorite attractions for their livelihoods. This victory today is another great example of the amazing things this town can accomplish when we all pull together to support each other.
“Of course, just because we reached this important mark, doesn’t mean the Hornets won’t need us anymore. The Hornets are having a great season this year and we need even more fans to come out and make noise to support our team. We want New Orleans to be the home of the Hornets for years to come.”
The Hornets team reported that fan attendance met its goals of the 14,735 game average required in their lease agreement. Before the campaign to increase attendance and keep the team in New Orleans, attendance was averaging approximately 13,735 a game, but it jumped by 10.5% or an additional 1,439 tickets purchased per game since the attendance push began. In the last three games, the team averaged 16,390 fans per game.
Following the Governor’s call to rally the New Orleans community, the Hornets Business Council was able to raise a commitment of $420,000 total, equating to 16,600 tickets.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said, “Our business community and residents have answered the call once again. We’re a city that always rises to meet the challenge, and keeping our beloved Hornets in New Orleans is just one more important battle for us to win in the long term. As someone who was involved in bringing the Hornets to New Orleans in 2002, I remain fully committed to doing what it takes to keep the team here for good.”
President and CEO of Greater New Orleans Inc. Michael Hecht said, “Of all of Greater New Orleans’ and Louisiana’s competitive advantages – natural resources, geography, culture – none is more central to our resurgence than the remarkable energy and alignment of our community and leadership. From businesses, to non-profits, to elected officials, everyone is working together with unprecedented focus and determination. This is the real story of the Hornet’s Business Council: in our effort to sustain and grow our basketball team, we are demonstrating the way we are going to sustain and grow our entire economy.”
Chairman of the New Orleans Business Council Greg Rusovich said, “Our community has once again met a challenge. The resiliency and tremendous out pouring of community support for the Hornets has sent a strong message to The NBA and nation that the Hornets are home in New Orleans. We will continue to work vigorously to keep the Hornets in the Hive for decades to come, and ensure that this powerful economic engine continues to roar.”
Hornets President Hugh Weber said, “We want to thank the business council and community, our fans, sponsors and political leaders for their support, but this is just the beginning as we all have a lot of work to do to continue to build our partnership and solidify the sustainability of all our support. Our focus remains to grow the business through increased ticket and sponsorship sales, keep the team competitive and further the team’s relationship with the fans of south Louisiana and throughout the state.”
Hornets/NBA Chairman and Governor Jac Sperling said, “We are extremely grateful for the support the Hornets have received, and we are inspired by the way the entire New Orleans community has stepped up to rally behind our team. “We are encouraged by the incredible support from Governor Jindal, Mayor Landrieu, the fans and business leaders. This incredible level of support will help make the Hornets more attractive to a local buyer. We encourage our fans to continue to show their support by buying season tickets, attending our entertaining games and cheering on our winning squad and asking all their family and friends to do the same.
Chair of the NOLA Business Alliance Henry Coaxum said, “It’s exciting to join Governor Jindal and area leaders tonight for this exciting announcement. As the dramatically increased attendance figures show, the Hornets have become an important part of the New Orleans community, and I hope they stick around for a long time.”
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said, “I’m glad we met the goal to keep the Hornets here for the next year. I’m very proud of the people, businesses, and community leaders who stepped up to the plate to make this happen. We need to keep the attendance up and continue supporting the Hornets who are having a great season,”
St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis said, “The Hornets winning streak continues both on the court and in the seats of the arena. I am so pleased that the fans have responded to the Hornets with their attendance.”
St. Bernard Parish President Craig P. Taffaro, Jr. said, “We are pleased to have been part of assuring that the Hornets are here for at least another year. We look forward to continuing to find a long term solution to keep the New Orleans Hornets home.”
Jefferson Parish President John F. Young, Jr. said, “I was confident the fans would help keep the Hornets where they belong; right here in the New Orleans metropolitan area. The franchise is a significant economic stimulus for Jefferson Parish and the entire New Orleans area. We are happy to hear the good news!”
If the benchmark had not been met, the Hornets had an option to terminate their lease in March 2011 with an exit penalty of $10 million. By achieving the attendance benchmark in 2011, the Hornets do not have the option to terminate the contract this year. However, according to the lease agreement, the team can terminate their contract by March 2012 or 2013 if attendance benchmarks are not met those years.