The Week Via Tapas

Published: April 20, 2012

Little bits of news that haven’t been reported widely, if at all.

With the ownership situation on the way to being settled, Hornets fans have gorged on optimism, or what passes at optimism for the gloomier sorts. As things return to the norm, we ease back into our standard information diet with a tapas spread.

Enjoy the fare and my hat-tip to the Upper Deck of Louie’s Backyard.

From the Mouth of Stern

At Monday’s press conference regarding the 2014 All-Star Game, Joe got his question in live on TV because Joe is that guy. I got mine in off to the side, elbow to elbow with the Commissioner, because I am that guy. I managed to ask questions that he actually went out of his way to answer clearly, and was not killed.

The finance committee approved Benson. Final approval by the end of May is reasonable.

I related the premise of this article from September and asked him if the thought the overall story here in New Orleans sent a message to owners who have not performed as well. He grinned and basically said that it sends a strong message to a number of people. I think he was glad I asked, and I, frankly, was tickled.

2014 All-Star Weekend

The 2014 All-Star Weekend is planned for February 14th through February 16th. It will be very similar to the 2008 All-Star Weekend at its core. There will be NBA Cares events, a Jam Session at the Convention Center, the Rookie-Sophomore Game, the dunk contest etc., and the All-Star Game itself.

It was mentioned that New Orleans would be basketball capital of the world for that weekend. I like the sound of that.

There was early lobbying for the 2018 All-Star Weekend in honor of the cities tricentennial. It’s as good a reason as any!

It’s also not 100% clear where the game will be played: Arena or Superdome. There are several reasons for and against each, but it’s clear from talking to . . . and overhearing . . . the parties in the know that it will likely be in the then-newly-renovated Arena.

Tom Benson

Benson is keen on a practice facility, a rebrand, getting the Arena filled, and getting a title. The first two are nearly unique to New Orleans. Before any of this happens, there is some business that must transpire first.

As mentioned above, Tom Benson must be approved by the NBA Board of Governors, which is more likely than not to be done by the end of May. House Bill 1072 that will continue to give the Hornets about $3.6m annually in tax rebates has passed through the committee and is scheduled for floor debate on the 25th. House Bill 2, providing the Arena updates, is still in committee. Also, the Legislature has not approved the lease.

Stern and others are quite confident all this will happened before July 1, 2012, and has been assured by multiple parties that this will not be impeded.

At this point, the main threat to the sale is, literally, any incapacity, such as death, by Benson, or the Bensons, depending on what Gail’s role really is.

Arena Improvements

Not much concrete has been released about these, just bulk dollar figures and plans largely. Club patrons have been enjoying new seats since the All-Star break. The only other clear cut chunks of information I have on this front are both mostly useless now and both due to a very passionate Hornets fan who is goodly enough to both tolerate me and share his knowledge with me about what goes on with the team on and off the court. As always, thanks.

The first bit is that Stingers gives an extra sauce compared to Fowl Line, for all you chicken devouring patrons. I saw the sauce from Stingers and am trusting him on Fowl Line. Speaking of, in sunnier times, tomorrow I’d be eating a free chicken wrap from Popeyes (spicy chicken strip, red beans and rice, tortilla).

The second bit is likely even more appealing. The Arena and Superdome have both been upgraded to provide patrons with enhanced cell phone service, including voice, SMS, and data. I had tons better reception than I normally have for years, including last week, when the gate number was not so great, so I take this as least a partial installation of the upgrade at this point. I’ll be in the Arena for Raw in May, so I can try again then if I haven’t gotten more details before.

This technology upgrade may be a planned thing, but early starts on Arena improvements encourage me, regardless.

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