Wednesday , Sep , 21 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Katrina forces Hornets to Oklahoma City for 2005-06

=== Katrina forces Hornets to Oklahoma City for 2005-06 ===

Oklahoma City, OK (Sports Network) – Due to the damage sustained to the New
Orleans Arena from Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, the New Orleans
Hornets will play a majority of their 2005-06 home schedule at the Ford Center
in Oklahoma City.

On Wednesday it was announced that Oklahoma City Council members approved a
lease that would allow the Hornets to play 35 of their 41-game home schedule
and all playoff games at the 19,675-seat arena. The Hornets will play six home
games in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

In addition, Oklahoma City will make sure the team has use of a practice
facility, office space and housing.

“I want to thank this community for extending your arms and embracing us. We
are grateful, grateful, grateful. Thank you so much for giving us the
wonderful opportunity.” said Hornets majority owner George Shinn. “The next
step is up to us. We have to do an incredible job selling and reaching this
market and we will do that…That I will promise you.”

The agreement reportedly states that Oklahoma City could have to pay up to $10
million to the Hornets if the club doesn’t reach the revenue marks set last
season. On the other hand, if the Hornets surpass last year’s numbers by five
percent, the team would be required to share 80 percent of its profits with
the city.

With the new move, the Hornets will be referred to as the New Orleans/Oklahoma
City Hornets. The club’s home jersey will feature “Hornets” across the front
with the away jersey displaying “New Orleans.”

The Ford Center currently is the home for the Oklahoma City Blazers of the
CHL. That hockey team said on its Web site that it would need to move some
home games to the Cox Convention Center, but is more than willing to make the
concession. The Oklahoma City Yard Dawgs, an arena football team that plays in
af2, also call the Ford Center home. Their season is already over and will not
be affected until the 2006 campaign starts.