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DTL
05-07-2002, 05:05 PM
Relocation Committee approves Hornets' move

ESPN.com news services


NEW ORLEANS -- 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.

"It's almost a dream come true," Hornets co-owner Ray Wooldridge told ESPN.com's Darren Rovell on Thursday. "We're very excited. We anticipated this would come for a long time. We still have obligations to fulfill, like work to do on our practice facility and renovation to the arena, but we are very pleased with the recommendation."

Wooldridge said that they intend to sign the letter of intent on the practice facility today.

"We realize that we have just one more step and that is to convince the other owners to vote for us," Wooldridge said. "But the relocation committee's report will answer all the questions to the other owner's questions.

"I want to congratulate everyone who made this possible. We had unified support from the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives all the way down to the governor's office, the mayor, Mark Morial, and the Mayor-elect Ray Nagin. And then, of course, to the fans who made this all possible."

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.

Charlotte beat the Orlando Magic 102-85 Tuesday night to reach the second round of the playoffs and will play the New Jersey Nets or Indiana Pacers next.

"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 relocation issue.

"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," Silas said.

"It's bad for the city of Charlotte, it's been great being here," Hornets player Baron Davis said during practice. "And who knows, what if they (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."

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, Wooldridge said.

"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."

Louisiana Gov. Mike Foster pushed numerous financial incentives through the Legislature this year to lure the Hornets, including $10 million in renovations to the state-owned arena. "We have cleared another critical hurdle and we are very hopeful the league owners will go along with the recommendation of the relocation committee," Foster said.

Drbio
05-07-2002, 07:33 PM
the worst kept secret in the NBA.

grbh
05-08-2002, 12:45 AM
Yea, but I kind of like the thought of an NBA team in New Orleans. Give me another reason to go visit.

Drbio
05-08-2002, 12:49 AM
I love New Orleans...one of my favorites

Dooby
05-08-2002, 09:00 AM
Now there is a rumor that the Magic is talking about moving to Charlotte.

This is getting out of hand.