Five Reasons Hornets Attendance Will Compete with 2008-2009

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Published: September 28, 2012

In 2008-2009, when the Hornets were considered a dark horse title contender, they set their attendance record in New Orleans with an average of 16,968 fans. Here are five reasons to think they will approach those numbers this season, despite being projected by most analysts to miss the playoffs.

1. Tom Benson

It’s not hard to figure out why the fans love Tom (even though he reportedly toyed with taking the Saints to San Antonio after Katrina) — he gave them the trophy they’ve always dreamed of. With his purchase of the Hornets, he gave the fans of New Orleans something else they’ve been dreaming of for years– stability.

The reality that the Hornets won’t be moving was enough to make a number of would-be fans get off their bums and buy some tickets. The New Orleans basketballers have sold well over 12,000 tickets per game this year so far, and the preseason-hype-machine hasn’t yet really entered full steam. The players have yet to even begin training camp. Media day, the unofficial start of our NBA season, is on Monday.

2. The Saints (and the NFL) are having an off year

Look, there’s no denying that the Saints are top billing in New Orleans. Every game is sold out and the waiting list for season tickets has tens of thousands of names on it. Heck, even preseason football, which is roughly as entertaining as a peanut butter and banana sandwich, draws 50,000 plus real people to some games.

That said, this Saints season has the potential to unravel pretty quickly. As a fan, I’ve toyed with the idea of just writing this year off and trying again next year, and I’d be surprised if there weren’t at least a few others thinking the same already. The replacement refs, as a whole, had no business being on an NFL field during game day (check out “replacement Google”), we’re missing our head coach/offensive coordinator, and to top it off it appears that our defense is terrible. This year isn’t dead yet, but there’s a realistic chance that Saints fans, now spoiled by the success in recent years, will not have had their competitive appetites fulfilled by just NFL football.

Just about every year since I became a Hornets fan, the early season has been rough going attendance-wise. While I wouldn’t expect the early going to be fantastic,  largely a result of so many kids and their parents being involved in youth football and cheerleading after school, if the Saints continue to struggle I would expect a few of their fans to look to the Creole Blue team next door to satisfy their sport-watching desires. Reason number three is sure to entice New Orleanians to check out some early season action as well.

3. Anthony Davis

Here are the year over year attendance statistics following winning the lottery in the past decade–

While all of these situations are different, it does appear that there’s a pattern of attendance increasing after landing the number one pick. Cavalier attendance shouldn’t be focused on since it was inflated the year before as a result of LeBron being used to sell tickets prior to “The Decision”.

Plus, as Michael noted yesterday, ESPN had him ranked as the 6th best #1 overall pick to come out in the last twenty years. The guy comes with some hype, even compared to some of his predecessors.

4. The “I’m In” Campaign

The Hornets might not be continuing the campaign (that’s news!), but look around town next time you’re outside and see how long it takes you to find an “I’m In” on a shirt, on a sign in a window, or on a bumper sticker. The fact is that the I’m in campaign didn’t just temporarily give a bump to Hornets ticket sales, it created thousands of new fans.

Last year may not have been the best ever in terms of on court performance (fine, it was a struggle), but my money is on more people doubling down than walking away. Do you really think these people are going to bail out now, just as things are getting exciting?

I guess we can use this as another opportunity to thank Hugh Weber and Jac Sperling– Thanks, guys!

5. Barring injuries, they should be competitive and exciting

I’m not going to go out and say that the Hornets will make the playoffs (that’s for our season preview!), but if Davis, Gordon and Anderson are healthy, this squad should find itself capable of beating just about anyone in the league, especially at home.

As for being exciting, last year was a snooze-fest. I get that Monty is a defensive minded coach, and that expecting a fast paced offense is probably asking a little much, but Gordon-Anderson-Davis should be a bit more fun to watch than Jack-Landry-Okafor, right?

This is a team that will get on SportsCenter. It’s a team that will make the highlight reels around town and have it’s players written about by Sports Illustrated. Hell, it’s a team that will make three pointers. Would you believe that Ryan Anderson made more 3-pointers per 48 last year THAN THE HORNETS DID AS A TEAM?

Three pointers are way exciting. The only question now is what will they do when he hits one? We need three of something, STAT.

What do you think should replace the Italian flags, which of course replaced the Peja heads?

6 comments
Chris Trew
Chris Trew

Peanut butter and banana sandwiches are pretty exciting, though.

Cornerstone
Cornerstone

Nothing will ever replace a Peja head.

NOEngineer
NOEngineer

I second the Rhino heads for Mister Anderson. What are we going to do when Anthony Davis or Jason Smith hits a 3? I think we should play Vincent Price's evil laugh from the Thriller video...... I also am very optimistic about attendance. In addition to the factors you mentioned, I think the economy in this area has rebounded nicely, and people have more money in their pockets. Superbowl will help bring in more spending money as well. The only thing that could derail this train is a Greg Oden type situation....

Will
Will

Also, I think the new tv deal will raise attendance. Hornets games have been available for the northshore for less than 2 years and even then, an extra package was required to get CST. Now, they'll be on basic cable. That's a lot of new potential fans with many, honestly, with the money to attend.

Nate
Nate

When Rhyno hits a three, there should be fans with Rhino heads running around. Italian flags should be replaced with Venezuelan flags for Vasquez. EVERYONE should wear black pipe-cleaner unibrows. Let's get ready, People!

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