Relocation Committee OKs Hornets' move to New OrleansPosted: Thursday May 02, 2002 1:24 PM
Updated: Thursday May 02, 2002 5:48 PM
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The Charlotte Hornets' proposed move to New Orleans was unanimously supported by the NBA's Relocation Committee on Thursday.
Owners of the league's 29 teams will decide May 10 whether the team can move, with 15 votes needed for final approval.
The recommendation, announced in New York, came as Hornets officials in New Orleans reached an agreement in principle with state officials on a 10-year contract for the NBA team to play in the New Orleans Arena.
The arena was built next to the Louisiana Superdome in the 1990s in hopes of attracting an NBA team.
The Hornets, losing money and fans in Charlotte, would be the NBA's second team to relocate in two years after the league had gone 16 seasons without a move. The Grizzlies moved from Vancouver to Memphis last year.
"It's bad for the city of Charlotte. It's been great being here," Hornets guard Baron Davis said at practice. "And who knows, what if [the owners] say no? It's not 100 percent sure. But I really don't care, I could care less. My focus is on Indiana or New Jersey and the next round of the playoffs."
Team owners George Shinn and Ray Wooldridge issued a statement in New Orleans saying they were pleased with the recommendation. In Charlotte, coach Paul Silas was ready to get rid of the distraction of the team's uncertain future.
"I talked to Ray about it and I told him we just want it over as soon as possible," Silas said.
"You get it over, I had thought about the fact they would delay the decision until we went through maybe the second round and that kind of thing and would help it. Everybody is tired of it, everybody wants it over with."
The Hornets led the league in attendance a decade ago, but the relationship among the fans, the owners and local politicians soured to such a degree that the team was last in the NBA in attendance this season.
The Hornets were offered a lucrative package by Louisiana.
"The support shown by the fans, civic leaders and the business community in the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana has been quite impressive," committee chairman and Phoenix Suns owner Jerry Colangelo said.
"We think the Hornets have laid the necessary groundwork for the successful operation of the team in New Orleans."
The team lost $15 million in Charlotte last season and could lose $20 million this season, according to Wooldridge.
"We did everything we could do in Charlotte to remain there,"
he said last month "The leadership of Charlotte did not do what
was necessary for us to be able to stay there."