An Ounce Of Perception, A Pound Of Obscure

Published: April 10, 2012

A quick progress report on the complicated ownership situation of the New Orleans Hornets.

There has been little hard news on the NBA side of the ownership situation. Given the amount of private money involved, the sensitive nature of the negotiations, and the gag orders, this is understandable. The only real change in the tune is that Stern said that three groups are in the running, not just as he reported around the All-Star break and as Jac Sperling indicated in Mid-March.

To be clear, we don’t know who the groups are, but it has been reported that the two were centered around Gary Chouest and Raj Bhathal. Tom Benson was reportedly involved at one point, and there were vague reports of a fourth group. It’s also unclear if any of these groups share members or if this third group is a combination of the other two in the running.

An NFL owners meeting was recently held, and Benson could have gotten approval to buy the Hornets at that time, something that rumors indicated was an issue in February. NFL owners can own major sports team in certain cases with NFL approval (pdf page 174/292).

For every report of X, one of not X arises. It’s tough out there.

Our friends indicate that there was some activity in the Chouest camp a few weeks ago, then the activity died. Shortly after, Chouest started appearing at games, including in his courtside seats. The activity could be the close of activity that took up the time in which he would normally attend games, but it could be ownership related, one way or the other.

Shortly after that, the third group is reported involved. Is the third group ploy? Is it real? Is it a group that was behind that has surged? It is as behind as it always was and just being reported as a bigger threat to give incentive to the current frontrunner to increase his offer?

On the State side of things, the progress is more measurable. The bill that contains the money to renovate the Arena, House Bill 2, has been introduced and is in the Ways and Means committee. It has been there for weeks, and this bill will not pass soon. It’s an extensive bill filled with finances, so it will likely take a while to clear all obstacles.

The bill confirms the reports that $50m will be set aside for Arena development (pdf page 16 of 131). $41.5m comes from money just for the Arena, and the other $8.5m comes from more general LSED money.

This bill has to pass, among other things, for the lease agreement to become effective July 1, 2012. Thus, the State is clearing away obstacles, even if it’s happening at the speed of bureaucracy.

We’ll have more soon about these bonds and the necessary tax credits, and we’ll be back sooner if we hear something.

Also, thanks to Ruah for the title.


  1. hio1515

    April 11, 2012 at 12:47 am


    I love a lot of the stuff that you write, and I hate to be negative, but this doesn’t add anything. You basically set up a premises for each thing that might happen and then under cut it. You might as well have written, “Ownership, who the hell knows what is going on?” If you have more of an idea what is going on than what you wrote in here, it makes this no better than the TP’s Benson articles earlier this week. Just a lot of speculation and pretty words, but ultimately no new content.

    • Jason Calmes

      April 11, 2012 at 1:05 am


      And I told you that flat out, plus the title says that, yeah?

      And I brought up the specifics on the bonds.

      I appreciate the criticism, and it’s well-founded. I’m just not trying to tell you what it is that you and others want; I’m trying to bring together the scattered reports, try to make sense if possible, and get people talking.

      There’s just no answer out there right now. I don’t expect one until June. I may be wrong, of course.

      • Chuck

        April 11, 2012 at 10:41 am

        Yeah enough people are dying for news that a “there is no news” update is appreciated just to know that we’re not being intentionally kept in the dark. Thanks

      • coach44

        April 11, 2012 at 11:00 am

        As David Byrne of Talking Heads once sang, “Same as it ever was.” I actually like your executive summaries. It keeps me from having to sift through all the chaff to get to the wheat. This whole process has seemed to move at glacial speed. Time to turn on the afterburners and get it done. Both the state and the NBA.

  2. sweetpea

    April 11, 2012 at 6:45 am

    Jason … let me see if I can hook you up with some NSA surveillance clearance; *we’ll* contact you soon.

    • Jason Calmes

      April 11, 2012 at 6:57 am


      Turned down that fig in 2005… before Katrina. Literally.

      Largest employer of mathematicians in the world, I do believe.

  3. J

    April 11, 2012 at 9:37 am

    It better get done now because i don’t want to go through next season with this all over again.

  4. Jason Calmes

    April 11, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    Points for Byrne references. I used that song in a D West piece.

    I’m glad this stuff helps some, and I fault no one for being frustrated with this situation, this piece, or this writer.

    You guys did get my point… guess I’m not used to these 500 word pieces…

  5. Pingback: Another Ounce of Perception | New Orleans Hornets |

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