View Full Version : Covitz: KC offers New Orleans Hornets a temporary home

09-07-2005, 01:20 AM

KC offers Hornets home
Kemper Arena is proposed as host to NBA team

The Kansas City Star

Mayor Kay Barnes said the city of Kansas City has contacted NBA commissioner David Stern’s office and offered a temporary home for the New Orleans Hornets if the club is unable to play at its arena this season.

The New Orleans Arena is adjacent to the Superdome, which sustained considerable damage from Hurricane Katrina, and even if the arena is operable, NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik advised league members last week, “It still may be impossible to play games in New Orleans for some time.”

Kansas City is one of several non-NBA cities volunteering their facilities to the Hornets. Oklahoma City, San Diego and Nashville have made offers, though it’s more likely the club would prefer to remain closer to home and play at LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge or the University of Southwestern Louisiana’s Cajundome in Lafayette.

“We’ve made clear that we certainly would be responsive to that opportunity,” Barnes said Tuesday. “On the other hand, I understand that the team might very well want to be as close to New Orleans as possible. I think we’ve done everything that is appropriate for us to do, which is express our willingness to have the Hornets be here for a period of time.”

Though Kansas City is 918 miles from New Orleans, it has some influential support from Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns a share of the Los Angeles Lakers; and from Comcast Spectacor, which owns the Philadelphia 76ers.

AEG will operate the new Sprint Center when it opens in 2007, and AEG president Tim Leiweke has a close association with Stern. Comcast is the parent company of Global Spectrum, which manages Kemper Arena and has a working relationship with AEG in arenas throughout the country.

“AEG is willing to step up to help the city of Kansas City, if asked,” said AEG’s Michael Roth, vice president of communications. “We would make whatever phone calls and lobbying efforts if someone on behalf of the city officially contacts us.”

Larry Hovick, general manager of Kemper Arena, said Peter Luukko, president/chief operating officer of Comcast Spectacor, has already contacted the commissioner’s office.

“Peter has our available dates, so he’s communicating with them, and I’m waiting to hear from Peter and what they have to say,” Hovick said.

“We have great dates in December, January, those months. We obviously have the American Royal for seven weeks in the October and November time frame. So that makes it a little bit of a challenge for the NBA, but at the same time, there is Municipal Auditorium we can throw in the mix. Those are the avenues we are taking.”

The American Royal will occupy Kemper from Oct. 8 to Nov. 22, meaning Municipal Auditorium, which seats about 9,500, would have to serve as the Hornets’ home court for the first two home exhibition games and the first five or six regular-season home games.

The Hornets, who plan to conduct training camp at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, have two home preseason games scheduled on Oct. 20 vs. San Antonio and Oct. 24 vs. Denver. The Hornets also have six home games scheduled in November, between Nov. 4 and Nov. 23.

Those working behind the scenes for Kansas City are trying to be sensitive to the Hornets and not appear to be opportunistic, but as Hovick said, “It’s a matter of they do need to play, they do need to have their season, and if in fact they choose Kansas City, we’ve already talked about donating proceeds to their relief effort.”

Even before the hurricane ravaged New Orleans, the Hornets were struggling at the gate and were considered one of the candidates for relocation once the Sprint Center is complete. The franchise, which relocated from Charlotte before the 2002-03 season, ranked last in the NBA in attendance last season, averaging 14,221, or just 82.7 percent of capacity. The Hornets also had been counting on $7.5 million in public funds for a proposed training facility adjoining the New Orleans Arena, but the community certainly won’t be able to afford that luxury for a while.

Barnes said the city’s offer should not be construed as a trial run for Kansas City to prove itself worthy of an NBA franchise.

“It could be (a test),” she said, “but the important thing is to just be helpful.”

09-07-2005, 07:54 AM
Honestly, I'm not sure Kemper is an upgrade.


09-07-2005, 07:59 AM
Funny, I read this thread title and thought - who are the New Orleans Hornets- shows ya how much I care about the NBA.... :rolleyes:

09-07-2005, 08:07 AM
Honestly, I'm not sure Kemper is an upgrade.

I was thinking the same thing. I also thought the same thing about the refugees complaining about the Superdome and the Convention Center.

"Man, they haven't seen Kemper yet."

09-07-2005, 08:08 AM
I don't care about temporarily i want a team permanently in KC when the sprint arena comes to town