Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says there’s no way state services will be cut in order to increase state subsidies for the New Orleans Hornets (NBA) and argues the best way to keep the team is for fans to show up so the team can’t leave its lease for three years.
Jindal, a Republican politician with national aspirations, made his comments at a news conference at the Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge.
Now that the NBA is in the process of buying the Hornets from George Shinn and Gary Chouest, Commissioner David Stern suggested the state could put together a set of financial incentives similar to what Tom Benson receives for the New Orleans Saints (NFL). The difference, of course, is that football is pretty important in the South; basketball not so much. And with the state facing a $1.6 billion deficit in 2011, there’s not a lot of money in the budget to shift for Hornets assistance.
Instead, Jindal suggested fans could assure the short-term future of the Hornets by attending games at New Orleans Arena to raise attendance figures; the lease at New Orleans Arena can be terminated for a $10 million penalty if attendance averages 14,735 fans per game through January 31. Currently the Hornets average 13,860 fans a game. If attendance goes past 14,736 per game the team would be committed for three more years to New Orleans — which should be enough time for Stern and Jac Sperling to find a new team or decide the team should be playing in another market.
Still, Jindal didn’t totally close the door on a bailout package. Such is the way of politicians.
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