Making the Hornets a Fixture at Bars

Published: March 19, 2012

In a city that revolves around the service industry, the Hornets have thus far done a less than stellar job ensuring that those who serve us serve them as well.

All it takes is one time at a Hornets game to get hooked. That how it all started for me.

A few Mondays ago I walked into Tchoup 45, one of my favorite local watering holes, for a round of trivia and a few drinks with friends. There were roughly 40 people there, mostly for the trivia, but also for the other thing that keeps the customers coming–dim lighting. The second half of Hornets- Trailblazers was just beginning. Somewhere at least…

The fact is, I wouldn’t bet that Hornets games are televised regularly at a majority of bars in New Orleans. Sad, but true. I don’t know that for sure, but judging from the bars that I frequent, the Hornets game won’t be on unless someone requested it. Honestly that doesn’t happen as often as I’d like. I’ve heard similar things from those at Hornets Report, in the comment section here, and even at the latest watch party we threw. There isn’t a notable “Hornets Bar” to speak of.

I’ve mentioned in the past that I have tried repeatedly to book watch parties in this city only to be told prior to the handshake that they don’t have CST, or that they only have CST on one TV, or something similar. But that’s not what I want to focus on today.

The issue at hand right now is that bartenders don’t think to put games on. Why? Well, on one hand the Hornets are struggling mightily. That doesn’t pass the smell test though. Plenty of local teams suck, but are still shown regularly at bars. I’m sure all of you  have (at the very least) heard of drowning your sorrows.

Hell, watching the local team suck at a local pub is probably a tradition in some cities. I’ve been told that people clamored into bars to watch the Saints in decades past, despite their inability to produce wins. It would take decades for the Hornets to equal the suckage of the Saints prior to Breesus.

So what can the Hornets do to see to it that at least a little Creole Blue blood runs through every social New Orleanian? Hook up the service industry with some goodies.

If there was ever a season to give away sweet tickets or old merchandise, this is it. Attendance is down, it costs them just about nothing to give away unsold tickets, and bartenders (along with the rest of the world) love free stuff. Another thing that most bartenders love to do is talk, so getting them to think about the Hornets once in a while does more than just get them involved with the team, it gets their customers/friends (those are often the same thing in New Orleans) thinking about Hornets Nation on a more regular basis.

Hook up 50 of the more social members of the staff with one pocketful of free tickets and the other with Hornets schedule stickers, a bag full of the Hornets gear that just won’t sell (James Posey jersey, anyone?), and set them loose all over the city. Tell them to post up at a bar they’ve never been to before (or even one they have) and to talk to the bartenders about the team, how much it means to the community that they’re here, what their plan to improve is, why they should get on board the TealTrain now, how sweet the free beer garden and music before games is, etc. Essentially tell them to do their best Hugh Weber impression.

When the bartenders or servers go see a game for free they’ll probably have a blast. Most people do. If they have a great time, maybe they wind up buying tickets to future games or some Hornets advertising merchandise.

Even if they never become customers of the Hornets, they will certainly be more inclined to put on CST next time there’s a game and they’re manning the bar. After all, the Hornets did them a solid. Throwing on the game is the least they can do, especially considering the alternative is often a muted rerun of Seinfeld.

Anyway, if done successfully and somewhat regularly, the result will be a city that buzzes every time the Hornets are on the air. That’s what needed if New Orleans is ever to fully embrace them them anywhere near they way they do the Saints and LSU.

P.S. Sorry I’ve been MIA. Was busy winning this!

And yes, I will play in your scramble if you need a fourth and want to talk Hornets. Stay tuned for our donation drive and you and I could win one of these together sometime in the not-so-distant future.


  1. sweetpea

    March 19, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Amen to this. The three cities besides New Orleans I’m most familiar with are St Louis, Cleveland and Boston. All are absolutely fanatical about their multiple sports franchies (well, St. Louis is in truth sort of lukewarm about the Rams, but they loved their hockey and baseball when I was there). And a big part of that is the way the drinking and social culture is completely interwoven into the games for fans who aren’t in attendance, especially in areas close to arenas. Obviously the Saints have it but the Hornets don’t in NOLA; I’ll feel a lot better about a permanent, beyond 2024 NBA presence once that starts to happen for our Hornets.

  2. Jason Calmes

    March 19, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    I like The Saint.

    There aren’t too many bars with an old school metal jukebox that allow dogs and occasionally play porn in their mix of B movies out there in the world. Casino el Camino is Austin is close, especially given the proximity of Death Metal Pizza (he man was on the last time I was there), and they have better food, but it’s not cozy like The Saint is on a good night.

    They played Heavy Metal Parking Lot one night. Classic.

    Come to think of it, I really haven’t been out to the bars in a while, like too long . . . that may change this weekend.

    Oh, go Hornets.

    Bad bars! Bad bars!

  3. TP

    March 20, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Man, I used to work at a bar within walking distance from the Arena. Cox wouldn’t run service to our location (and won’t to the new owners) so we were stuck with Direct TV, and no games due to blackout restrictions, etc., so people saying they can’t get the games is valid, imho.
    The other problem is the enormity of the Saints’ success the last few years. They completely overshadow the Hornets until January, and then the games aren’t on predictable nights, etc. That is, the NBA does not provide a predictable schedule like the NFL or MLB. Games are here and there during the week all season, making it hard for the casual fan to turn on the TV and find it, at a bar or not.

  4. RBee

    March 20, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Great ideas! I agree that going to a game is how we get addicted. It’s how we became die hard fans – and we lost the first game I saw when CP3 missed a free throw! Now my brother & his girlfriend are riding around with “I’m In” magnets and driving in from BR to watch games – and that’s after going to games this year when they have yet to see a win.

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