Saints Loss Bodes Well For Hornets Attendance

Published: January 9, 2011

With the Saints out of the playoffs, and no chance for Lombardi Gras II, it is quite officially basketball season in the Big Easy. People might not want to hear it, but when the Saints are playing, the Hornets play second fiddle. It’s a sweet fiddle, but the second one nonetheless. With first fiddle out for the season with a bruised ego, it’s time for the second fiddle to take center stage. As much as I hate the Seahawks for doing it, they might have just given the Hornets lease extension chances a figurative shot in the arm.

With five games left to play at home, the Hornets needs to average 14,932 people per game, or the franchise can break its lease by paying only a 10 million dollar penalty. Just under 15 thousand people a game isn’t asking that much, but it’s well above this season’s per game average of 14,085. Now that the Saints are out of the picture, will 1,000 more fans show up per home game than in the past?

They should. Speaking entirely from personal experience (since there isn’t a site that simplifies attendance to the point in which it wouldn’t take me hours to figure out average attendance per month for the past four years), the Hornets do tend to attract more fans to the Arena once the Saints are out of the picture. How many is debatable for now, but in years past it’s been noticeable just by looking around at games.

They (like everyone except the Tampa Bay Devil Rays) also tend to bring in more fans when they are playing well, which they are this season. Despite what so many have been saying lately, the team has been successful this year, relatively at least. With 45% of the season over and done, the Hornets are on pace to win 47 games and enter the playoffs as the seven seed. Should the Denver management cave and trade Carmelo Anthony, it’s a near certainty that the Nuggets would fall off, potentially leaving the sixth seed up for grabs.

Let’s put 47 wins in perspective. First of all (and least importantly), it’s what Ryan and I both predicted the Hornets would finish with. I guess that’s irrelevant, but I just wanted to remind you all. Moving on, I collaborated with seven other guys from the TrueHoop Network to fill out our predictions for every team’s regular season win total. Aside from my guess, the predictions went like this- 43 (Henry Abbot and Dan Feldman), 41 (Darius Soriano), 39 (Devin Kharpertiane, Carey Smith), 36 (Patrick Hayes), and 35 (Beckley Mason).

These are not guys who were out to get the Hornets preseason, or who have a grudge to bare for some reason. They are writers just like me, except better, who gave their honest predictions of where the Hornets stood entering the season. Remember the winless preseason? Or the summer of Chaos? I would say this season has been good so far. Hell, I think it’s been great considering how hard the beginning of it was supposed to be. Anyone who is honest with themselves would have taken 21-16 through 37 games if I offered it to them before the season started. Anyone care to claim otherwise?

Moving on, here’s a cold realization for you New Orleans sports fans- From when the Saints season ends (traditionally right around the new year, although lately it has been later) until Training camp begins (late July), there really aren’t any other major sports in the area. Sure you can tell me about LSU basketball or baseball, but those are all out in Baton Rouge. We can talk about Tulane baseball, or UNO, Loyola, Xavier and Delgado sports, but they rarely draws more than a few thousand people and I can’t imagine that they do any better on TV.

The Hornets also have Mardi Gras and the smaller festivals to contend with for the rest of the season, but the team takes it’s Mardi Gras road trip during the intense parts of Carnival, so that won’t hurt attendance as much as it will TV numbers. As for the smaller festivals and gatherings, it can be argued that some of them might even increase attendance to some extent by bringing opposing fans who just happen to be in the area, into the Arena.

Back to the lease, though. With five games left this month, it’s time to lay it all on the line for Hornets fans, and they will answer the call. With the Saints officially done for the year, I’m going to go ahead and predict that New Orleanians will meet the attendance mandate and trigger the extension clause in the lease, temporarily securing the team’s future in the city.


  1. Pingback: The New Orleans Hornets Have Alienated The Majority Of Local Fans | Swarm & Sting | A New Orleans Hornets Blog

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