Introducing Homegrown Night

The Hornets, more than any NBA team, put on quite a show for their fans. Nobody else does pregame parties every game with live music. There isn’t another team that gives free beer to their season ticket holders, while charging only a dollar for everyone else. There are inflatable games and basketball hoops outside the arena for the kids, face painting stations, and even a caricature artist. Some might think the Hornets don’t do enough, but compared to other NBA franchises, they win in a landslide.

Once the game starts the party moves inside and is complemented by authentic New Orleans food options and good old Hornets basketball. For some reason, though, the music stays outside and instead fans hear the same recorded tracks that every other arena in the NBA plays. I like hip hop and all, but it gets a little old hearing the same songs over and over and over.

A few days ago James Grayson did a piece on how the Hornets could increase their exposure and fan base in New Orleans. He mentioned some ideas such as changing the name of the Arena, or putting blue lights on the CCC. It got me thinking about some other ways to get more people interested and watching the Hornets, and thanks to a comment or two by you lovely people, this is what I came up with.

What if the Hornets could further embrace the city, while selling more tickets as a result? The New Orleans market loves music, and hates commercialized stuff. For one game a month just drop the sound effects and the recorded music. Bring in Soul Rebels or Rebirth and have them do the music. Still want to play the favorites? Grab Lil’ Wayne and see if he wants to do some hip hop to get the crowd riled up. Something tells me Lil’ Wayne would be thrilled to do something like this. If it’s not him then get another local musician. There are plenty.

Call it “Homegrown night” and promote the crap out of it.

Having local bands performing the music at a game is a fantastic way to get new fans into the Arena, especially those who might otherwise never attend a Hornets game. A lot of people have this image in their heads of the NBA being a thug league and the Hornets just being one of the crowd. Something like this could go a long way toward changing that perception.

I’m not saying do it every time, but even just once a year would go a long way toward getting some new fans to tune in.

The more the team embraces the local culture, the easier it is for fans to get and stay involved. If we’ve learned anything since 2002, it’s that this isn’t your ordinary NBA city. People in New Orleans just have higher expectations for fun than fans in other places, and even though the Hornets do an awesome job making sure the games are fun for everyone, there is always room for improvement.

Or maybe it would be horrible. Either way, I just wanted to throw it out there.

18 responses to “Introducing Homegrown Night”

  1. Tailgating at the game. Not near the game. Not around the game. At.

    Drive-throughs are really drive-next-tos. The little stores with 2 walls in North and Central Louisiana and Mississippi with two walls that straddle the horseshoe driveway are drive-throughs since you drive through them.

    I see the NBA version of the club from Night at the Roxbury, where the outside looks like the club and the club’s inside looks like the street.

    That is to say, “Awesome.”

    It’s a party with a game, not a game with a party.

    Naturally N’awlins, as they say.

  2. Great idea. We live in a unique town and there is no reason why the experience at games should be any less so.

  3. i think its a great idea. the hornets need to market themselves better and that would be a nice start. i dont care what they do as long as they get ppl to come to the arena and get the hornets to stay here.

  4. Can we please contact the Hornets front office with these ideas. I always thought the one way to win over the crowd was differentiating your product. Thanks for the shout-out too, I just really got sick of all this bickering and thought, “you know what let’s find some solutions, pitch ideas.”

    If the Hornets marketing department had any sense they’d grab a hold of these ideas and never let go.

    Maybe Joe should get a job as one of the Marketing directors there…

  5. Sure. New Orleans has a lot of “celebrities” that are known, and many more that are unknown elsewhere, but all of whom are recognized locally and respected. How about comping those guys in with partial-season packages, rotating them in the same front row seats so everybody knows where to find them, in exchange for live entertainment? NOllywood on the Bayou. (Or “River,” whatever.) Everybody wins.

  6. I LOVE this idea. Not only would it provide an avenue for local musicians to increase their exposure in a much larger venue than their used to, it would attract the loyal followers of the these local musicians. I’m talking from Trombone Shorty to Rebirth to your local hole in the wall singers / jazz musicians. However, I do not endorse a heavy amount of rap. I’d rather stick to R & B if they were inclined to go to that spectrum of music. They have to be tasteful in their selection of music without turning off their corporate backers.

    We’d have to be realistic as to how much they could do with this idea in the constructs of games.

    1) Buzzfest Pre-game – Instead of covers, give the spot to a local artist with local flavor. Typically this should go to a non-jazz local musician because they bring in jazz musicians often enough during normal buzz fests.

    2) Primetime Series Pre-game – I’d like to see either a local specialist act here or maybe a local rock band. Many rock bands would do the gig for free just for the exposure. I’m sure the team would not want to spend money here.

    3) Hornets Coming Out to Gametime – This is the only time I’m torn on. The players are used to the hit songs during warm-ups.

    4) In-Game Breaks – This is where I would bring in Rebirth or Trombone, to get the crowd pumped up throughout the game during timeouts, etc.

    5) Halftime – Local Act. I’d keep this a musician too just for the whole “live music” feel to the game. This would pretty much be the capper on the evening minus the extracurriculars during the breaks.

    New Orleanians would respond to this type of atmosphere, if not for the total uniqueness to it. The Saints don’t do it. No one in the country does it athletically that I know of.

    Joe, I’m sold.

  7. +1 all great ideas.

    I was driving in to work pre-dawn across the connection yesterday morning and saw my first Saints license plate. Knew where that car was the rest of the way on my commute. Why cant we have some new car-based giveaway, like window decals? All the good stuff I ever got I got from 2008 and still have and show, but its all getting old. And nothing new has replaced it at the Hornets Nest.

    You can promote the hell out of your team if you get the fans to show it off. Were the best PR the team has. Help us out!

  8. BTW, Weezy seems nice to the ladies when he’s sitting on the front row, but I highly doubt he would take courtside seats to throw down a beat. I’ve heard he charges 80 grand to make an appearance and do 1 song. Besides, that ***hole rooted for the Vikings in the NFCCG. Now say, Juvenile, Mystikal, or Harry Connick, would be cool.

  9. Perfect. I was in New Orleans in March and realized it’s a very musical city. People like attractions that involve music, especially those having to do with the local culture. If the Hornets explore it may be a way to win new fans. His idea is very good. I totally agree. The Hornets need to find a way to engage people of New Orleans around the team and show that the franchise can also be part of the city’s culture. And New Orleans is a fantastic city. It will not be hard to call people’s attention.

  10. The idea is great. Why not pay a little to go watch a local star and watch the Hornets game as well. But, you have to advertise on gambit or where y’at… Let that go into the weekly music schedule on local mags. Plus do a raffle every game night! Give away Basketball’s, caps, t-shirts to 30-50 fans every game night. Give away something signed by each player on the roster (that is a total of 15 small gifts) to the fans. Not just the lower bowl please! Consider this as the icing on the cake. You have to give if you want something in return.

  11. This idea does not consider the realities of it’s own execution.

    In order to attain the synchronicity necessary to play live music during breaks in play, the musicians would have to be in a constant state of readiness for the entirety of the 2-3 hour basketball game.

    This idea is more feasible if, instead of live music, you simply play more authentic local New Orleans music over the existing sound system, and possibly use the pregame and halftime for live music acts.

    Live music during the game though… impossible.

    • Many of our musicians do this already.

      It’s called Jazz. When guy A stops, or calls, someone else who has been silent picks up. Etc. There’s more to it, of course, but I think that just means that this sort of thing is second nature.

    • Not to pile on, but there are these things called college football games that have huge bands playing along with the game action. Brass bands freestyling would have to watch the game, and it might take a season to get good, but it’s very possible to do and would have probable success if the game producers gave it some time to gel.

  12. They should re brand the team in purple green and gold. Change the name to the new Orleans royals (mardi gras krewe royalty theme) the mascot would be a green alligator sporting a crown named Rex. Keep the lettering style, drop the awful shinn pinnstripes. Nola on the front of the home whites, new Orleans on the green roadies. Feature locals for music pre game and halftime. Have le cirque and the gno lit up in purple green and gold for every home game. Fix the tv contract. Market more to northshore, baton rouge, bayou region, and miss gulf coast. Play preseason games at the pmac and Billoxi and lafayette. Find a way to partner w the saints to promote each others product. Maybe bring Rita Benson as part owner. All the Mardi gras community would be all over it. Home run.

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