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.

“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 this
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.

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

“Few American cities have experienced the level of tragedy as Oklahoma City,”
Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said. “I think for that reason our community
has a heightened sensitivity for those impacted by Hurricane Katrina. We
accept that we are the best solution to solve one of the many problems and
pledge our best efforts to support the Hornets.”

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 Hornets will play their six remaining home games at the Pete Maravich
Center on the campus of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA.

“It was important to the Hornets and the NBA that we maintain a presence in
Louisiana in anticipation of a return to New Orleans next season,” NBA
commissioner David Stern said in a release.

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.