Courts for a Cause

Published: February 26, 2012

The Hornets have been refurbishing basketball courts in Louisiana. On top of being an awesome philanthropic cause, Jake takes a look at how it helps attract sponsorship money.

The New Orleans Hornets have been refurbishing community basketball courts since the start of the 2008 season. The courts range from basic outdoor courts to full-fledged indoor ones. These Creole blue and gold courts can be found all over southern Louisiana ranging from the Northshore to the Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Orleans parishes with the most recent being completed on January 22nd at the St. Gabriel Church on Pineda Street in New Orleans.

“We refurbish these courts because they are important gathering places,” says Hornets’ President Hugh Weber. “I know it seems like it’s just a piece of cement with four basketball hoops, but everywhere we’ve gone and put these together, we’ve done it to bring the community together. Much like the New Orleans Arena, where people from all parts of the city come, we believe people from different parts of this community will come and spend a lot of time on this court.”

Other than improving the surrounding community, the idea is that these courts will encourage Louisiana youth to avoid criminal activity. On January 4th the Hornets and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced the launch of SOS NOLA Midnight Basketball. Part of the SOS NOLA: Saving Our Sons anti-crime campaign, Midnight Basketball is “part of a crime fighting strategy that steers people away from violence and into a safe, positive and competitive environment,” Landrieu said in a statement.

These charitable efforts from the Hornets are fantastic. We knew from the leaked financial documents, and the state of the NBA before the lockout, that the team has likely lost money in recent years. Yet, instead of locking down spending and trying to get the books into the black, the team has made a huge effort to help local communities. Whether that is through food drives, home builds with Habitat for Humanity, or refurbishing over 25 basketball courts, the Hornets have shown a commitment to community service.

In addition to being excellent charitable contributions, events like these, and the publicity they generate, are a big reason why the Hornets are able to attract such big sponsorships. Yes, the Hornets are an NBA team and will inherently get money because of that, but think about a meeting with an executive of a very large company.

If you go in asking for $1,000,000.00+ and your only sales pitch is that the Hornets play in the NBA, good luck. There are 29 other teams (and let’s be honest, the majority of which are in more attractive markets and, ummm, more attractive on the court) that they can, and do, give money to. Offering to partner on many philanthropic events, as well and putting up a bunch of signs, maybe offering some related in-game promotion, etc., will go a long way towards securing that large sponsorship than the latter two will alone.

Don’t forget that building these courts cost money– like tens of thousands of dollars. The Hornets have refurbished 25+ courts over southern Louisiana. That’s like 25 times tens of thousands of dollars. When the Hornets try to convince potential sponsors to spend money on the team, they can say part of it will be earmarked for refurbished courts or other charity functions. Having publicity in the arena is very nice, but it reaches a very small and specific demographic; a large company is much more likely to donate money when they know there will be additional publicity. Sponsoring a small section in the New Orleans Arena or something for season ticket holders is nice. But having the very positive news of refurbishing courts or rebuilding  houses in the Times-Picayune and other non-basketball publications/sites reaches out to an even bigger audience. All that for publicity for refurbishing one court is a reason why you see multinational corporations like Chevron and BP partnering with the Hornets on these projects.

Helping out local communities and bringing in more sponsorship money for the team, it’s a win-win for the Hornets. Reach out to the team to help volunteer and support the Hornets’ charitable causes. It really does make a difference–in more than one way.

Wait. I’m not done. There is a secret third reason why the Hornets have been refurbishing courts.

Louisiana produces NBA players at a higher than expected rate. By refurbishing basketball courts throughout the state more people will play basketball. By playing on Hornets courts, the majority of those people will become Hornets fans. When those people make it to the NBA they will force trades to the Hornets so they can be close to home and on their favorite team. Thus, the end result would be an endless pipeline of talent for the team. Then the Hornets wouldn’t have to worry about superstars leaving, it would be about which superstars they want.

Okay, so maybe not. But the part about the NBA players that Louisiana produces? That was true.  Jason is going to have something more in depth on that for you all very soon.

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