Hornets Beat: Owning the Ownership Conversation

Published: November 29, 2011

Hornets Beat is back for a conversation about ownership. Remember last year when billionaire Gary Chouest was announced as the new owner? Yeah, us too. Those were the days…

Joining our regulars today are Will Hibert (LSUHornet17) from At The Hive, and Jake Madison from Swarm and Sting.

Also, be sure to check out Hugh Weber’s letter to season ticket holders.

1. On a scale of 1-10, How important is it to you that the next owner be locally based?

Ryan Schwan- 2.  I don’t care if they live in New Orleans, as long as they are ACTUALLY committed to trying to keep the team from moving.  Too much nonsense happens when a team moves, and instability never helps any teams to win.  Keep the damn team where it is, and where it belongs. It is being supported more than adequately.

Jason Calmes – 4. Somewhat important. There are attributes an owner should have above this, like being financially solvent. It’s on New Orleans, Louisiana, and the region to build a relationship with the franchise that no owner would want to disturb.

Will Hibert – 4. By far, the most important thing is that the owner is determined to make this team work in New Orleans. If that person doesn’t have any local ties, then so be it. It would be nice to get a  local owner and would alleviate the fears of a good chunk of the fan base immediately, but a non-local could potentially achieve the same goal.

Jake Madison- 4. It would be nice because it would alleviate all the concern about the team moving, as well as help with marketing. But as long as the owner is committed to keeping the team in New Orleans and has piles of cash, I’m good.

Joe Gerrity-
7. It’s not essential, but if there is a better way to immediately end the constant speculation that the team could be on the move, I’d love to hear it. Another positive of selling to an longtime local owner is a team easier for locals to get behind.

2. Do you re-brand if you’re the new owner?

Ryan Schwan – No.  Name recognition matters, and what does re-branding do beside cost a lot and change exactly zero perceptions about a team and its management.  The way to change those perceptions in a sports world is to win, not to change the name on the jersey and the symbol on the court.

Jason Calmes – No. I may do a minor-brand. I put the fleur-de-bee everywhere and things like that. I keep calling the team the New Orleans Hornets, though. I change what those symbols symbolize through consistent action in the community and results on the court that promote the `new hotness.’

Will Hibert – No. I might get rid of the main logo with Hugo and just go with the Fleur-de-bee as the main logo and the NOLA Horn as the secondary, but the Hornets have been a New Orleans team for almost 10 years now and the name means something to the city.

Jake Madison– So many other sports teams’ names have no ties to their local culture, so I don’t think a re-brand is needed. I’d use the brass logo more, but keep the name the same. Personally, I really don’t care. I’ll go to the arena to see whatever the New Orleans NBA team is called.

Joe Gerrity- After the success that the I’m In campaign had around town, the need for a re-brand is probably at an all-time low. Whatever. You still do it. Give a second wind to the New Orleans themed I’m In promotions with a locally themed re-brand. We are still too often referred to as the Charlotte Hornets and associated with cheapness and non-NBA- viability. The biggest negative is that people who have long rooted for the Hornets (since Charlotte) may lose their connection. Fun fact–Most of them aren’t from New Orleans. Those that are would probably be unlikely to give up their seats because a new owner changed the name to the New Orleans Swampthings.

3. The Hornets were bought by the league for $310 million last December. What will the team sell for this time around?

Ryan Schwan – I would bet their asking price will be $310 million for local owners.  If the potential local deals fall through, then I’d expect the price to grow.

Jason Calmes – $350m. This team is more valuable in a demonstrable way because of the NBA. They will be compensated for their expenses and successes.

Will Hibert
– $350-$375m. Barring a big discount for a local owner, I think the NBA owners get a decent return on their investment. Though scary, the period of NBA ownership has seen the team steadily increase in value. Between a friendlier CBA, (hopefully) 10,000 season ticket holders, new seven-figure sponsors, and a new lease with the state, the team is in perfect shape to be sold to an owner who should have no reservations about the team being a long-term fixture in New Orleans.

Jake Madison- $350 million or more. David Stern said the league wanted to make a profit off the team and I’d bet the other owners would be screaming for blood if they didn’t get something out of it. I could potentially see a discount for a local owner but I doubt it will more than 10 million.

Joe Gerrity- After the increase in sponsorships in the past year and the alleged sale of naming rights, the Hornets would have been in line to break even this year without even factoring in everything else that’s going their way. The eventual selling price will be 360 million, but there will be much higher offers floated in front of commissioner Stern.

4. If the Hornets bring on a local celebrity as minority owner, who would your first choice be?

Ryan Schwan – Tyler Perry.  That way, all the commercials could advertise the Hornets as Tyler Perry’s Hornets!  Apparently that’s a huge draw for TNT.  Or, we could just slit our wrists.

Jason Calmes – Leaving Morris Bart out since he’s already connected with the team, I’d want Joseph Harry Fowler Connick, Jr. Harry has everything one would want in a `face’ in this town: looks, cash, multiple talents, beaucoup local ties, community focus, free time, and a little accent.

Will Hibert –
I was thinking I’d go with the Manning Family, but I think I’ll go with Brad Pitt. Big star power, has to have the financial clout, and has already done a tremendous amount of work in the city. Plus, Angelina Jolie might show up at games. Remember those “Brad Pitt for Mayor” t-shirts? The city already loves this guy.

Jake Madison – No question about it: Chris Trew. He may not have the money, but he does have awesome promotional videos.

Joe Gerrity- Leaving Chris Trew out of it, I’ll go with a trio of Emeril Lagasse, Paul Prudhomme, and John Besh. Between the three of them they could cook something that would entice any player in the league to not only come to New Orleans, but bring their friends as well.

5. If you were the new owner, what would you tackle first off the court?

Ryan Schwan – I’d call Chris Paul and promise him the world, even if I was being moderately insincere and planning for if/when he leaves.  Then I’d focus on DirecTV.  You have to be able to reach all your local potential fans to be a local success at the box office.

Jason Calmes – I spend the first year making sure local businesses support continues to grow. The team needs that support more than any other in terms of driving season ticket sales. I’d get businesses together in a plan to sponsor the team and promote them every which way I could. I’d set up a deal where Harrah’s let’s some small business be promoted during the second half on one of their big signs, chosen by some `wheel’ or other contrivance. I’d have Hornets nights at bars and restaurants . . . Hornets pick up the tab for the first half at one of these three bars or restaurants, rotating for each away game, in trade for advertising the restaurants at a few home games. I’d do everything I could to get those small business supporting the team.

Will Hibert – The corporate sponsorships and local support are important and the recent gains in that area are significant and encouraging, but the first thing I’d try to tackle is getting Hornets games on virtually every television set in the New Orleans Metro area. The current TV deal is a joke and is a big detriment to the growth of the team here. There are several bars in the city which Hornets games can’t be viewed. Thousands of households who have Direct TV (or ATT U-verse) can’t catch any Hornets games. This is a huge problem and needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Secondly, can we get all 82 (or 66 for this year) games televised? Absolutely ridiculous that fans (including season ticket holders) can’t watch some games because of the arbitrary 67 game schedule CST has decided upon.
Jake Madison- The TV deal in all aspects. Its absurd that not every game is televised or in high definition. How are the Hornets supposed to increase their fan base when a large percentage of the city cannot even get any game on tv? It detaches the city from the team and is not something the Hornets can afford to do.

Joe Gerrity-
Dell Demps and Monty Williams. Let’s be real here. A new owner could be very hands on and may have an entirely different vision for building a team than Demps and Williams do. Those are the facts of the NBA as we know them. Demps was the number four guy in San Antonio and Williams is a first time head coach. These aren’t relatively high paid guys with long contracts. New ownership will need to immediately figure out if Demps and Williams are who they want guiding the ship for the foreseeable future. For what it’s worth, my money is on both guys being here for the long haul.


  1. Pingback: Hornets Beat: Owning the Ownership Conversation | Louisiana Laws

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.