Ever-Newer Waters Flow . . .

Published: June 18, 2012

With changes at the top of the Hornets hierarchy, more were sure to follow . . .

Hornets fans have had a steadily increasing number of events that are positive on their face, even moreso when their resonance is accounted for, but, as I am fond of saying, everything has a cost.

From the bottom it looks like a steep incline
From the top, another downhill slop of mine
But I know the equilibrium’s there.
Falling to Pieces, Faith No More

Today, the organization parted ways with Hugh Weber and Jac Sperling, as reported by The New Orleans Times-Picayune. Dennis Lauscha will be president of the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Hornets. Mickey Loomis will add oversight of Basketball Operations to his role of head of Football Operations in the appropriate organizations.

The President acts as a proxy owner in all aspects of a franchise’s activities. The President will check with the owners when appropriate, but that’s the only person they answer to. The Head of Basketball Operations is similar, but he reports to the President rather than the owner and focuses on on-the-court stuff and associated activities. So, contracts fall into this scope while ticket sales do not, related as the one may be to the other at times.

Jac was a product of NBA ownership and was not with the organization before that era and did not remain after in any practical sense. As it should be.

Regardless: Thanks, Jac. And thanks to your family. You were always a pleasure to talk to, and your work will be appreciated for generations.

For those that don’t know, Jac acted as the NBA ownership’s representation. He’s worked in sports (Predators, Wild), and has some legal and financial background. He did a great job (for us, the NBA, and Tom), and he was really committed to getting us to this point (local ownership, medium-to-long-term lease). He never had a problem talking to me, remembered me and our talks, and took what we do here at Hornets247 seriously, to the point of talking about our articles in meetings. I, therefore, would like to thank him not only personally as a fan and a local, but also as a writer. I’m sure I’m not the only one that Jac impressed with his work, either.

Hugh has been criticized heavily, perhaps justly, perhaps not, perhaps both, but one thing is for sure: Hugh worked hard to give this team the best possible shot to stay in New Orleans once the NBA bought the team. Prior to that, who knows what the `mission’ was, but from that point on, he knew he was going to be done (reasoned speculation on my part) either way. He could have left the office at 4 every day and got his fill of local food while he could, or he could work late every night, interact with fans constantly, and polish up this franchise so we could enjoy it here after he was gone.

He chose the latter.

Thanks, Hugh. For a team president and a guy with a tie, you were pretty easy to talk to and always at least pretended to laugh at my jokes. Your tireless efforts in the homes of New Orleans may be some of the most important events in New Orleans sports history.

The Times-Picayune goes on to say that Monty and Dell seem to be in the plans for the coming year and that no other front office changes seem imminent. They also indicate in the same article that a rebrand may be one season away.

Besides the above, there was a large meeting at the Saints’ Indoor Practice Facility this morning, presumably to orient people to the new regime. Friends of Hornets247 indicate that Saints and Hornets ticket sales will be working side-by-side. What this means for employment of individuals, staff sizes, etc., we don’t know. It could be a consolidation or they could take on new work. The Hornets’ sales team may become more like the Saints’ sales team or vice versa. Or neither. Time will tell, but the idea of separate organizations seems to have likely been outlasted by the eggs sardou on the day of the grand opening. Look for more `togetherness’.

In the end, more people who worked very hard to help keep this team here will lose their jobs. That is quite sad, but, again, it had to be seen coming. It’s a rough business, one with high turnover. Those facts do not make getting a pink slip any easier and may not do justice to the sacrifices some made. They were appreciated, for what that is worth, and thank again, especially those who will be looking for employment next.

So happy together . . .

We’ll keep you posted of other such changes, but make no mistake about it . . .

Ever-newer waters flow on those who step into the same rivers
— Arius Didymus, on Heraclitus


  1. Mr. West

    June 18, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    Hugh gave me free tickets to my second ever Hornets game for free, my first ever in the lower bowl. I owe that man a drink, to say the least. Sad to see him go…

  2. m_W

    June 18, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    Never liked Hugh Weber. His focus was always on “the product,” never the players, the fans, or actual people. Major sports are more than an average product; when successful, they form a part of the fabric of the local culture. Hopefully, they will get someone with greater knowledge of sports business, rather than just the family businessman–which is really no more than Weber was to George Shinn.

  3. mojart

    June 19, 2012 at 2:42 am

    please don’t cut coach monty and gm demps……

  4. sweetpea

    June 19, 2012 at 7:33 am

    The more I think about it, the less comfortable I am with Mickey Loomis running both operations. The gentleman who will above him … Mr. Larusha (sorry, I know I butchered that) I think can probably serve well as a broad overseer of both franchises, but I think at the level of management where Loomis will operate there may well be a problem of not enough time in the day, once he comes back on board with the Saints after his suspension. Now he might delegate his authority a lot to Dell Demps, but I don’t know if that’s a good way to run an organization over the long term. I trust Mr. Benson’s knowledge on how to run a huge business conglomerate over mine, but common sense and reading alot about other corporate managers with too many responsibilities gives me moment to pause.

  5. CharmedHive

    June 19, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Great read as always! I do have a concern though. I read that, as mentioned above,Loomis has been suspended for like, the Saints’ first 8 games, and that by Benson hiring Loomis, it provides a way that they can communicate, which would not otherwise be okay. Will the NFL somehow interfere with our affairs? I just worry that Benson isn’t hiring these people for the right reasons. But what do I know?

    • Jason Calmes

      June 19, 2012 at 10:39 am

      These are Benson’s troops. They may screw and be horrible at all things NBA, but I really think it’s more of a ‘reporting’ thing and a way for the execs to learn and educate… the Hornets aren’t perfect.

      Another thing to consider is this is a way to have more ownership representation than before, which will Dell to be more effective to get ownership answer sooner than later.

      It may not be this way, and tome will tell; it’s just another viewpoint.

  6. coach44

    June 19, 2012 at 10:39 am

    The thing about Mr. Benson is he wants to make money, but he also seems like he really wants to win. I went to a multitude of STH events where Shinn would get up in front of the assembled masses and loudly proclaim, “I want to bring a championship to New Orleans!” Well, we know how that turned out. At least Mr. Benson delivered. And it didn’t seem like a fluke. Now, the question is if his football guys can transition that success to basketball. If he leaves Dell and Monty in place, I think the answer is yes. We shall see. And I’ll tell you what, I think this is going to be a fun ride!

    • nola hustle

      June 19, 2012 at 11:35 am

      I agree with you coach, especially with benson fresh off the realization that unparallelled success on the field equates to unparalled success on the financial end, and we know he likes that.

      It is a very exciting time, I only worry from a saints perspective, if loomis invests too much energy towards the hornets, will that detract from his focus on building the saints roster? I’m sure dell has the hornets side locked down without the need for too much direction.

      As for weber, I am a little conflicted. After years of disbelief that Shinn would take his brother in law straight from the salad dressing game to be president of the hornets, he really earned my respect in the past couple years. I wish him the best, and am curious to see whether his presence will be noticeably missed or if benson will put people in charge who are equally or more able in every area from community service to arena comfort, cleanliness (only room for improvement), fan experience (eliminate loud noises in favor of squeaking sneakers and some organ), customer service, etc., etc.

      • Jason Calmes

        June 19, 2012 at 12:05 pm

        Loomis is more of a cap and contract guy. It’s less about evaluation with him. Always has been, see Haslett picks.

        These seem to be financial guys in financial roles.

  7. Bonaparte

    June 19, 2012 at 11:43 am

    I also am okay with Weber being gone. The final vestige of the Shinn family’s rampant nepotism is gone at last. Good riddance to George, Chad, Hugh, the Cranstons, et al.

  8. Bonaparte

    June 19, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Funny note about Loomis – he oversaw an Arena Football title (whoopty doo, I know… I hate Arena football more than anybody) and an NFL title. Would be an amazing run for him to add an NBA title down the line.

  9. jjmartin

    June 19, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Never cared for George Shinn’s brother-in-law. Never put a good product out on the court and struggled with the cap. See ya later. But if they get rid of Monty that would be it for me. Oh and build the practice facility you said you would in the Eastern part of New Orleans. You got the money set aside so do it.

    • Bonaparte

      June 19, 2012 at 1:24 pm

      JJ, why in the world would you want the practice facility built in New Orleans East? Talk about a horrible, old-school New Orleans political decision. That reeks of the pandering, racial politics that got our city in the massive mess that she’s been struggling to get out of for decades.

      Jazzland is a microcosm of why no business voluntarily moves to NO East. Disaster. We should have bulldozed NO East after Katrina and made all of the property owners whole. Of course the Cynthia-hyphens on the board would have NEVER allowed that to happen because it would tear up their constituencies.

      • NOLA Hustle

        June 19, 2012 at 4:37 pm

        sounds like you’re the one who lets prejudgement and politics get in the way of a business decision. If theoretically benson wanted to build in the east because he can get a huge piece of real estate relatively cheap and still be 10 min from arena, why not?

        of course he owns the tower downtown and is trying to build up his champion’s square empire so cbd is I’m sure his first choice, but if not the east sounds like a perfectly rational choice to me, regardless of who sits on the city council.

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