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New Orleans Arena
Aerial View
Copyright 2007 by Urban Photos

  Venue Particulars  
Address 1501 Girod Street
New Orleans, LA 70113
Phone (504) 587-3808
Official Website
Seating Weather
Satellite View
Hornets Gear
  Venue Resources  
Hotels, Dining & Deals in New Orleans

  The Facility  
Opened October 19, 1999
Louisiana Stadium/Expo District
(Spectacor Management Group)
Cost of Construction $114 million
Arena Financing Unknown
Arena Architects Arthur Q. Davis and Partners,
Billes-Manning Architects,
Hewitt Washington and Associates
  Other Facts  
Tenants New Orleans Pelicans
(NBA) (2013-Present)
Tuluane University
Former Tenants New Orleans Hornets
(NBA) (2002-2005)
New Orleans Brass
(ECHL) (1999-2002)
New Orleans VooDoo
(AFL) (2004-2005)
Population Base 1,500,000
On Site Parking 5,000
Nearest Airport Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY)
Retired Numbers #7 "Pistol" Pete Maravich
#13 Bobby Phills

Capacity 18,000
Average Ticket $28.61
Fan Cost Index (FCI) $206.44
The Team Marketing Report FCI includes: four average-price tickets; four small soft drinks; two small beers; four hot dogs; two game programs; parking; and two adult-size caps.
Luxury Suites 44 Suites
Club Seats Unknown
Hockey 17,500
Concerts 19,000
Boxing 18,500
  Attendance History  
Season  Total  Capacity Change
1992-93 971,618 99% 0%
1993-94 971,618 99% 0%
1994-95 971,618 99% 0%
1995-96 985,722 100% 1.5%
1996-97 985,722 100% 0%
1997-98 959,616 97% -2.7%
1998-99 480,807 80% -49.9%
1999-00 732,827 74% 52.4%
2000-01 615,424 75.3% -16.0%

2001-02 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05
462,738 641,683 587,613 583,070

2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09
744,920 731,065 581,432 695,727

2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13
620,366 603,088 498,618 565,930

1992-2002 Attendance for the Charlotte Coliseum
1998-1999 - Attendance for 25 games due to NBA lockout.
2005-2006 - Attendance for Ford Center, Oklahoma City, OK; Pete Maravich Assembly Center, Baton Rouge, LA; and Lloyd Noble Center, Norman, OK
2006-2007 - Attendance for Ford Center, Oklahoma City, OK and New Orleans Arena, New Orleans, LA
2011-2012 - Attendance for 33 games due to NBA lockout.

Sources: Mediaventures


Lawrence G. Griffis
Designers of a new, multipurpose arena in New
Orleans created its steel and concrete roof by drawing
on 19th-Century bridge technology

The roof of a new, $84 million arena in downtown New Orleans combines steel and concrete to produce a structural system that combines the best properties of both materials while performing like a reinforced-concrete arch bridge. The roof system's concrete components carry the large compression loads of an arch while the steel ties resist the thrusts.

The new arena is intended to host professional hockey and basketball teams, concerts, and other events not suited to the larger Superdome located nearby. The building, which will seat 17,500 for hockey and 18,500 for basketball, was designed by a joint venture of the local architecture firms Arthur Q. Davis and Partners, Billes-Manning Architects, and Hewitt Washington and Associates. The general contractor is the joint venture Manhattan/ Gibbs, also of New Orleans. Construction management services to the owner, the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District, are being furnished by ILSI/CS joint venture of New Orleans; Walter P. Moore and Associates of Houston are the structural engineers.

The use of reinforced concrete dates back to the 19th century. The French gardener and inventor R. Jean Monier is recognized as the father of reinforced concrete. In the 1860s Monier began making large flower pots reinforced with steel wire mesh. He later expanded upon the principle to include an arch with a layer of wire near its thrust line. While the Frenchman may not have fully grasped the ramifications of his achievement, hundreds of reinforced-concrete arch bridges have since been built using this principle.

Students of concrete bridge design will also recognize the names Robert Maillart of Switzerland, Joseph Melan of Austria, and another Frenchman, Eugene Freyssinet, considered the father of prestressed concrete. Each of these engineers advanced the art of concrete bridge design in Europe using arches. But it was an engineer by the name of Conde B. McCullough, who, while serving as the head of Oregon's highway bridge division from 1919 to 1946, introduced the tied arch to the United States. He used it for a pair of 37 m spans at the Wilson Creek Bridge near Tillamook, Oregon, choosing the arch because the cost of building foundations able to sustain the thrusts would have been prohibitive.

New Orleans Arena
Walter P. Moore's engineers applied the concrete arch bridge concept to the roof of the new arena in New Orleans-with a few modern twists. Although the firm has designed more than 25 arenas nationwide, none of these have had composite sections for major roof elements. To the best of their knowledge, no one else has yet completed such a design. Designers modified the curved parabolic arch into a mansard roof to make it suitable for an arena.

The cross section of the compression chord takes the form of a hollow rectangular box, maximizing the component's strength-to-weight ratio. Engineers replaced the tie typically provided by the bridge deck surface with a pair of wide-flange steel shapes field bolted in the air. These steel ties also serve as supports for catwalks above the arena playing floor. Queen posts at the roof ridge lines counteract compression chord forces and carry unbalanced rigging loads.

Engineers usually do not choose concrete for long-span roof designs because of its heavy dead load. Why was concrete specified here? First, the project arose at a time when steel prices were rising and lead times for steel orders were longer than usual in the region. To avoid delays, designers elected to minimize the steel tonnage by finding a creative, low-cost alternative. Project engineers had learned from high-rise buildings that reinforced-concrete columns are six to eight times more economical than steel columns when carrying large compression loads.

The compression chord of the tied-arch roof of this project is really just a high-rise building column laid on its side. There was no reason why the cost advantage conveyed by high-rise columns could not be applied to the arena roof, particularly if the chords could be cast on-site. Additionally, the hollow shape enabled contractors to save money by using conventional cranes during erection rather than specialized lifters.

During conceptual design, engineers developed a preliminary scheme of a concrete tied arch and a tied-arch steel-box truss system. Pricing by the construction manager showed a $430,000 savings in the final erected cost using the concrete tied-arch system instead of steel.

To minimize the costs of erecting the system, engineers limited chord bending and kept the concrete in compression as a column member, no a beam-column member with large flexural stresses. A beam column would have had a deeper section and a greater weight, thereby reducing the economic advantage of concrete.

While prestressing the box girder was an option from a structural standpoint, it was unnecessary because the chord was primarily in compression. Project engineers kept the box girder in compression by loading the tied-arch system only at the queen posts. Only the weight of the member itself caused flexural bending in the box girder. Designers conceived the roof plan so that long-span joists connected directly to four corner posts and to steel trusses above the sides of the playing floor. The trusses in turn rest on top of the box girder at the queen posts.

Another advantage of the concretied-arch system is related to the wind environment in New Orleans. Since the city is situated on the Gulf of Mexico in an area where severe hurricanes with 322 km/h wind gusts are a real threat, local structures have lateral load-resisting systems governed by wind loading. For this structure, the additional mass of the tied-arch system prevented any net uplift, even under the most severe hurricane loading. Thus, prestressing the tension was not necessary.

The primary design consideration in a tied-arch structural system is buckling of the compression chord. Designers established the width, depth, and wall thickness of the box girder based on buckling requirements and the desire to minimize system weight. In the early stages, project engineers contemplated using high- strength concrete to reduce weight, but final analysis showed such a design would buckle at the given unbraced length (the distance from the support column to the queen post and between queen posts for strong axis buckling). The wall thicknesses 177.80 mm for the top and bottom flanges and 152.40 mm for the sidewalls-were governed by concrete placement considerations, including two required layers of reinforcing steel and local buckling. Thus, high strength concrete was unnecessary.

Designers settled on 41,370 kPa normal-weight concrete with a high water-reducing admixture for easier placement and prevention of honeycombing. The box sections were formed in three stages (top and bottom slabs and sidewalls) using construction joints at the tops and bottoms of the sidewalls.

Research at the University of Texas at Austin sponsored by the Texas Highway Department established criteria for determining wall thickness, local buckling limits, and reinforcement detailing. The research showed that maintaining a wall-length-to-thickness ratio no greater than 15.0 would ensure that a failure strain of 0.003 across the concrete cross section would be maintained and that local buckling would not be a design concern. In its final configuration, the box girder was 1.22 m wide and 1.98 m deep. These box girder proportions produced wall-length-to-thickness ratios of 5.1 and 10. 7 for the flanges and webs, respectively.

Unbraced lengths produced KL/r slenderness ratios of 36 and 21 for the strong and weak axes, respectively. The top of the box girder was kept below and unattached to the roof deck so it would not vertically load the box girder. However, a brace supports the box girder's weak axis against side-ways buckling and allows vertical movement between the roof deck and the top of the box girder.

The stiffness EI was another important parameter for the box-girder design. Engineers need to know stiffness EI to assess the critical buckling load and to determine the bending moment amplified for the effects of member curvature as required by the American Concrete Institute building code. Although the code includes approximate EI values, these were not precise enough for the critical box girder-chord design. Accordingly, engineers found more exact EI values from moment rotation curves generated by a computer program written as part of the Texas research.

When concrete members are subjected to large compression forces, they usually must be evaluated for elastic shortening, creep, and shrinkage. Project engineers assessed EI values at each stage of loading (including construction loads) and evaluated box-girder and overall system deflections. The tied-arch truss proved to be a very stiff system. Upon release of the center shoring towers, roof deflection was calculated to be 88.9 mm. Additional overall deflection of the tied-arch system under creep and shrinkage effects is expected to be 58.42 mm after 10 years. Roof deflection under the prescribed 58.6 kg/ml roof live load is only 29.21 mm (equivalent to the length, L, divided by 3,506); under the 54,432 kg rigging load it is only 9.52 mm (L/10,750).

Aside from the weight of the roof itself, the most critical load for the tied-arch roof system is wind generated. Engineers performed a comprehensive investigation at the wind-tunnel laboratory of Cermak, Peterka, Petersen, Inc., in Fort Collins, Colorado, to gain a more accurate assessment. First they studied the wind environment of New Orleans in detail. The results showed that the basic wind speed (the largest 50-year wind speed from all directions at 10 m above the ground) was 6.5 percent greater than the wind speed determined from the ASCE 7-95 (Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures [Reston, Virginia: ASCE Press, 1996]) wind standard map (214.00 km/h peak gust versus 201.13 km/h peak gust).

However, when the directional properties of the wind were taken into account, as permitted by code when using a wind-tunnel study, it was determined that the highest directional wind speed was from a southerly direction and was only 84 percent of code. In terms of wind loading (pressure) rather than velocity, the largest value was only 70 percent of code. The wind tunnel study was a valuable tool not only in determining more accurate wind loads, but also in taking economic advantage of the lower loads.

New Orleans Arena

The nearby Superdome (approximately 68.58 m northeast of the new arena) had a significant effect on the wind pressure patterns for the new arena. The flow over the curved Superdome surface resulted in a strong downward, rather than horizontal, flow toward the new arena from winds coming from the northwest. This created positive (downward) roof pressures where there would normally be roof uplift. This load case had a significant effect on joist and joist-girder design for the roof.

The Superdome also affected arena wall pressures. If the arena were isolated, a northerly wind would create positive pressures on the arena's north face and negative pressures on its south face. However, as the winds come off the Superdome they cause a negative pressure in the space between the two structures, generating a negative north wall pressure. In southerly winds the Superdome causes a back pressure between the two buildings, creating a positive north wall pressure instead of a negative pressure. These results were somewhat startling at first and could only have been predicted using a wind-tunnel study.

The wind-climate study showed that hurricane winds will originate in the southwest quadrant. Existing structures provide very little shelter from these wind directions, which affected the structural design of the tied-arch members. Another important aspect of the tied-arch design involved the load factor applied to wind loads. This load factor by code is 1.3. However, in the New Orleans wind environment, the use of a load factor of 1.3 implied less than a 200year mean recurrence interval storm, producing theoretical ultimate or irfailurelt loads. Instead, project engineers checked the roof structure for a 1,000-year storm with a load factor and a safety factor (phi) of 1.0.

Walter P. Moore's project specifications required a detailed written erection procedure to be submitted by the fabrication/ erection team and coordinated and approved by the general contractor. The erection plan included a step-by-step procedure describing the status of the structure at each stage, including bolted connections to be tightened, roof-deck attachment, column-support conditions, shoring-tower details, and jacking conditions. Engineers also demonstrated the structure's stability at all stages of the erection process.

Hurricane Georges struck just east of New Orleans in late September 1998, placing the project at risk: although the roof structure was partially erected and under construction at the time, no damage was sustained.

The erection of the arena required four pile-supported shoring towers, one located at each queen post of each of the two tied- arch trusses. Shoring towers and their pile foundations could hold a maximum load of 318 metric tons. Each box-girder chord was cast on-site and erected in three pieces. The two sloping end sections, each approximately 37.80 m long, weighed 109.77 metric tons; the center flat section was 28.65 m long and weighed 85.28 metric tons. Each box-girder segment was fastened after erection using high-strength bolts 28.58 mm in diameter. The center planer trusses connecting to each queen post were 7.62 m deep and weighed 40.82 metric tons. Side trusses at each queen post weighed 17.24 metric tons.

Each box girder was cast on a concrete-pile-supported casting slab located in the arena playing floor area almost directly below the girder's final position. Special lifting pads, also pile supported, sat at the box girder lifts. Soil conditions in New Orleans are extremely poor and dictate that all slabs on grade be pile supported. Each box girder was erected in place using one crane with a 54.86m boom length on a 12.80 m radius.

The roof deck, together with all steel trusses and long-span roof joists, was installed prior to the release of the roof system by jacking at the four erection towers. Jacks released the load in 12 mm increments at each tower until the roof became self-supporting.

The design and construction of a long-span roof system require careful evaluation of several viable structural systems that support the architectural design objectives with respect to roof shape, height, and support locations. Additionally, market conditions must be evaluated in terms of the cost, availability of materials, local labor conditions, foundation conditions, schedule for construction, and opening-date delivery of the project to the owner. This process is a team effort involving the owner, the architect, the structural engineer, the construction manager, the general contractor, and the appro- priate subcontractors. For this project and the prevailing market conditions, the concrete tied-arch system proved to be the right choice.

Courtesy Walter P. Moore and Associates, Inc.
Lawrence G. Griffis, P.E., NLASCE, is the senior vice president and director of structural engineering for Walter P. Moore and Associates, Inc., headquartered in Houston.

New Orleans Arena

By: Andrew Kulyk & Peter Farrell

New Orleans Arena Ranking by USRT
Architecture 3.5
Concessions 6
Scoreboard 7
Ushers 2
Fan Support 6
Location 7.5
Banners/History 5
Entertainment 6
Concourses/Fan Comfort 7
Bonus: Invocation 2
Bonus: New Orleans Energy 2
Total Score 54
November 15, 2002 - After years of clamoring for a new venue in Charlotte, owners George Shinn and Ray Woolridge finally burnt every bridge left standing in North Carolina, and moved their team to open and waiting arms in New Orleans. After a 23 year absence, the NBA was back in New Orleans.

New Orleans Arena opened in 1999, and is a poster child for the motto "if you build it he will come". With the construction of a state of the art arena built to major league specifications, New Orleans was counting on the eventual arrival of a major league tenant to their new facility. That gamble was rewarded when the ownership team of Shinn and Woolridge bolted from Charlotte and relocated their team to New Orleans effective with the 2002-03 season.

Getting to the Venue
New Orleans Arena is located in the northwest corner of downtown New Orleans, and is immediately adjacent to the Louisiana Superdome. Located on Girot Street, access to the venue is via the grid of downtown streets, or directly off of I-10 by simply taking the Superdome exits. There is public transportation throughout the downtown area, and the venue is a brisk walk from most downtown hotels as well as the French Quarter. Parking runs $10 in the Superdome garage, and you can find surface lots on the north and west sides of the building as well.

Outside the Venue
The arena itself is an octagon shaped building, reminiscent of America West Arena, and the south side along Girot Street serves as the building's main entrance. There is a second entrance on the west side of the building. Both entrances are built with massive glass facades which soar to the top of the building. At night the gray facades of the arena are brightly floodlit, but the exterior of the building is devoid of any marquee or identification signage, and this lends to sort of a bland appearance.

Girot Street is closed off to traffic on game days, and this area is roped off as a party zone full of pregame activities and entertainment. A stage is set up with jazz and blues players, there are hoops contests and even a tug of war pit. Refreshment and beer stands offer pregame fare, and on this night there was even a rodeo display complete with live bulls (perhaps because the Chicago Bulls were in town?). Given the warm winter weather here, such an outdoor set up works nicely.

The Concourses
You enter the arena on the ground floor, walk through a small lobby and from there a long escalator takes you high up to the main level of the building. The concourses are colored pale gray, off white and pale turquoise, with terrazzo tile flooring and recessed lights in the ceiling. Concession canopies pick up the color scheme, and again, the decor looks very bland and austere, although bright and new. There are three concourse levels here - the upper and lower concourses for the general public, and below the main level is a club concourse and lounge. More on that later. A suite level overlooks the main concourse from a balcony and is accessible via its own escalator.

The Seating Bowl
New Orleans Arena
Seating is divided into lower and upper levels, divided by a separate suite level. The seats here are checker colored in dark blue, light blue and gray. An older styled four sided scoreboard hangs in the center with video boards and backlit ad panels. Along the upper balcony are stationary ad panels and one color dot matrix boards offering in game stats and out of town scores.

What makes the seating bowl is the 360 degree digital LED board which wraps around the entire circumference of the suite level balcony. The Hornets utilize this display to the max, offering a constant barrage of cool special effects, scrolling ads and bouncing logos throughout the game. These guys use their board more creatively than anywhere else we have seen.

Voo Doo Barbecue offers the best dishes with a local flair, and of course, being New Orleans both concourses are replete with frozen daiquiri stands. We also spotted a couple items on the menu which we could not spell or pronounce, and being too timid to try we passed. There is no team store in the arena, but small satellite merchandise carts scattered throught the corridors. As we walked around the outside, there were two spaces in the building at ground level that were under construction. One looks like a restaurant with outdoor patio and the other looks like the future site of a team merchandise store.

Premium Seating
In addition to a separate suite level and concourse, the 100 level seats between the baselines are designated as club seating. Tickets here run from $86-$136, and provide access to a separate club concourse, which is located below the 100 level main concourse. This exclusive area basically consists of north and south club lounges with bar service, a couple concession stands and table seating. The two lounges are connected via a narrow and austere corridor. Really nothing special to write home about here.

Banners/Retired Numbers
In a classy move, the Hornets brought their retired number of #13, Bobby Phills, over from Charlotte. Added to the rafters in a moving ceremony on opening night was that of the late "Pistol" Pete Maravich, the greatest player to ever play basketball in New Orleans as a member of the New Orleans Jazz.

Slam Dunks, Assists, Fouls...

Slam Dunk - to the best feature of the building, those super 360 degree digital LED boards in the seating bowl, well presented and a show to enjoy!

Assist - the USRT karma works again, as the home town Hornets run away with the game and defeat the Chicago Bulls, 105-87.

Slam Dunk - A mention here on one of the finest attractions in downtown New Orleans - the D- Day Museum. The movies, displays and exhibits are certain to stir the emotions of anyone visiting.

Slam Dunk - to the many local fans on the "" message board who provided us with lots of ideas and help in preparation for our visit here.

Foul - the heavy handed ushers and guest services people who need a few lessons in customer courtesy. When we entered the building we were politely told at the security check not to use flash photos while the game was in progress. (OK noted). As we toured the building and snapped photos, a guest services person stopped us and berated us for taking flash pictures in the corridor. Perhaps Jamal Mashburn will come barreling down the corridor dribbling the ball any moment now???

Assist - Here is something new... at New Orleans Arena they don't just do the National Anthem before the game, but also an INVOCATION, delivered by a member of the New Orleans clergy. At the inaugural game the Mayor of the city gave the invocation, where he asked God to bring a win over the visiting Utah Jazz and an NBA championship to the city of New Orleans. God must be listening.... as of this writing the Hornets are a perfect 8-0 at home. AMEN!!!!!!!

Foul - to ourselves, we had a hotel reservation at the Wyndham Hotel in downtown New Orleans, and as we checked in we discovered that we were at the wrong hotel. Our Wyndham was two blocks away and we had to repack all our gear, pay for parking and move on. OOPS! Another USRT first.....

Assist - As in most arenas, there is an out of town scoreboard showing scores from around the league. Here in New Orleans, they add a new twist... they also display scores from the NBDL (National Basketball Developmental League). You can just imagine all the eyes focused on that board as the Greenville vs North Charleston final popped up.

If one had to describe New Orleans Arena in just one word, it would have to be "ordinary". Bland, washed out colors (or really, lack of color) both inside and outside. Not much in the way of amenities, and premium level lounges that are left way behind in the dust compared to their peer venues. What makes this even more disappointing here is that this is NEW ORLEANS, where flash, color, pizzazz and flamboyance are the norm and part of the culture. On the positive side, the Big Easy is not known to be the greatest of sports cities, yet the local fans have really taken a shining to their Hornets, and those in attendance were very loud and enthusiastic. Further upgrades, splashes of colors and better decor will raise the score, but for now, we rate this venue somewhere in the lower end of the middle.

December 18, 2008
Copyright 2008 MediaVentures

The New Orleans Hornets have enlisted a national management company to sell the naming rights to the New Orleans Arena. Octagon, a McLean, Va., firm that represents the Hornets' two All-Stars, Chris Paul and David West, will be pursuing a potential sponsor for the building in which the two stars play, a chore Octagon believes is attainable despite the country's economic turmoil. Octagon believes the Hornets' success last season, and the anticipated success this season, along with the marquee events being hosted at the New Orleans Arena in the coming months - including musical acts such as Celine Dion and Britney Spears, along with athletic events such as NCAA men's first- and second-round games in 2010, the 2012 SEC basketball tournament and the 2013 women's Final Four - make the Arena an attractive sell. The link with Octagon is open ended. It is hoped by next year a naming rights sponsor will be in place. (New Orleans Times Picayune)

October 21, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

The New Orleans VooDoo have signed a two-year lease with New Orleans Arena, the New Orleans Times Picayune reported. The VooDoo will pay the Louisiana Sports and Exposition District $200,000 annually and $7,500 in rent per game. The new VooDoo, relocated from Bossier-Shreveport, will open Arena League play in March under owner Dan Newman and head coach Jon Norris.

December 9, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

New Orleans, La. - The NBA has taken ownership of the Hornets from George Shinn because Shinn is heavily in debt, the New Orleans Times Picayune reported. The newspaper's report was based on information from the NBA and an audit of the team obtained from

While the team actually made an operating profit in 2009, the problem for owner George Shinn was the team's long-term debt, according to the Times Picayune's analysis of the audit. At the end of 2009 - the second of the two years which the audit covers - the Hornets' long-term debt was $111 million. And they had to pay $8.9 million in interest on it. That wiped out an operating profit of $5.8 million.

But contributing to the small positive net income was that the NBA forgave a $3.9 million payment on the $30 million relocation fee that Shinn owed to move the team from Charlotte to New Orleans in 2002.

The documents also show that in January 2005 Shinn borrowed $30 million from the team through a separate company, GIS of Nevada. That note was unsecured, meaning it was a promissory note from Shinn. But it was listed as an asset on the Hornets' balance sheet, the newspaper said. In addition, at the end of 2009 Shinn owed the team another $5.1 million for what the documents call "Various advances." The audit, which was dated Nov. 30, 2009, noted it didn't expect Shinn to be able to make any immediate payments on the $35 million he borrowed, the newspaper said.

On Jan. 21, 2005 Shinn bought out then partner Ray Wooldridge for a reported $70 million. Wooldridge had bought 35 percent of the team in 1999 for an estimated $56 million and was instrumental in moving the franchise to New Orleans.

The Times Picayune said a bright spot for the next owner is that the audit revealed that the team's bottom line was hugely affected by the its performance, as the club was enriched one year following the 2007-08 division championship season.

Total home-game ticket revenues in 2009, including playoffs, was $45.2 million, compared to $36 million the year before.

The audit did raise questions about the ability of the partnership, including at least three separate entities owned by Shinn, totaling 65 percent, and one by Gary Chouest (Slam Dunk LLC) totaling 35 percent, to continue operating because of continued financial losses.

"The Partnership's financial statements have been prepared assuming that it will continue as a going concern," the audit said. ". . . . the Partnership has incurred recurring operating losses, has negative cash flows, and has a partners' deficit. These conditions raise substantial doubt about the Partnership's ability to continue as a going concern."

The audit also reveals that, as has been previously reported, the State of Louisiana provided no financial assistance to the team in 2009 because the Hornets had reached required attendance benchmarks.

The documents released by show that under a 2008 lease amendment, the Hornets minimum rent is "based on 60 percent of concessions revenues as defined.

"Additionally, the Partnership is required to pay the excess of game day expenses, as defined, over a certain amount. Rent expense was $4,045,189 and $40,051,604 for the years ended June 30, 2009 and 2008, respectively."

The 2008 amendment also sets benchmarks for revenue and the State of Louisiana agreed to pay the difference between the benchmark and actual revenues.

"For the years ended June 30, 2009 and 2008, the benchmark amount was $6,825,000 and $6,500,000, respectively. The Partnership received $0 and $6,369,659 from the State of Louisiana for the years ended June 30, 2009 and 2008, respectively," the audit documents said.

NBA Commissioner David Stern told the Times Picayune that the league wants to keep the Hornets in New Orleans and that's why it paid Shinn and other owners a reported $300 million to take over ownership. The goal is to find another owner for the franchise.

"In all fairness, this was a sudden situation, and it's really as much about running the league in an orderly fashion and (it's) completely what we set out to do. And so this will enable us to have the team going strong, we hope, then assess what our rights and obligations are here and see where we go from there," Stern told the newspaper

The newspaper said Stern wouldn't speculate on the Hornets' long-term future in New Orleans, indicating perhaps that additional state subsidies would be required in a new, long-term lease agreement. The current pact expires in 2014.

"I don't want to answer that because I don't want to say things I don't have certain knowledge of at this point, " Stern said when asked his level of confidence of the club's long-range future in the Crescent City. "I think it really is going to ultimately depend on both a combination of the business prospects for the team and the assistance that can be gotten from the state and the city."

December 16, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures

New Orleans, La. - Gov. Bobby Jindal is calling on Hornets fans to scoop up tickets to games so the team doesn't have the opportunity to back out on its lease at New Orleans Arena, the Times Picayune reported.

The Hornets can opt out of their lease agreement with the state if an attendance benchmark is not met by Jan. 31, 2011. The team's average attendance, from this season and last, must be at least 14,735. The Hornets' current home average is 13,735, according to audit figures obtained by the Times Picayune from the state. To meet the requirement, the Hornets will have to average 14,883 for 12 home games.

Jindal and Mayor Mitch Landrieu encouraged fans to purchase tickets for Christmas gifts for family and friends, and they encouraged businesses to step up to help, the newspaper said. The NBA recently announced it was purchasing the franchise from George Shinn and Gary Chouest for $300 million and will seek local ownership in an effort to keep the team in New Orleans.

Though Jindal told the Times Picayune he has no plans to take funds from higher education and health care to help the Hornets, he said the state is willing to be creative to help make the team more financially viable.

"We asked 'Are they looking for something in the short-term or long?' and that's something they have not decided yet," Jindal said. "There are other challenges facing the league. They got some labor uncertainty and the outcome of those negotiations can certainly impact what happens here in Louisiana."

There is speculation that the league could pursue ownership from outside the state if it cannot find local investors. Seattle and Kansas City could vie for the Hornets. Seattle, however, still has the same arena problems that led to owner Clayton Bennett moving the SuperSonics to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and renaming them the Oklahoma City Thunder. Kansas City has a state-of-the-art downtown arena, but that small market already includes the NFL's Chiefs and Major League Baseball's Royals, the newspaper said.

January 6, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

With only a few home games remaining before the Jan. 31 cutoff to reach attendance benchmarks, and three of those against upper echelon NBA teams, the man who oversees operation of New Orleans Arena said he's optimistic the Hornets will be successful in attaining numbers necessary to keep the team from invoking an opt-out clause in their lease, the New Orleans Times Picayune reported. "As of today (Tuesday) the average we need is 14,698," said Doug Thornton, senior vice president of SMG, the management company that operates the Arena and Superdome. "We need to generate a total attendance of 88,187 in that period of time. So it doesn't all have to be on a per-game basis."

January 27, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announced that the New Orleans Hornets have met the attendance benchmarks required to keep the team another season but said that's just step one in keeping the team long-term. With an announced sellout crowd of 17,233 for the game against Oklahoma City at the New Orleans Arena, the New Orleans Times Picayune said the Hornets surpassed the attendance average of 14,735 fans this season, meaning the team must remain in New Orleans for at least another year. Jindal cautioned, meeting the attendance benchmark was only the first step in keeping the NBA franchise in New Orleans for the foreseeable future. The next step in the process, Jindal said, was getting fans to purchase season tickets, with the goal being 10,000 for next season. According to team officials, the Hornets have 6,300 season-ticket holders this season, a significant drop from the 2008-09 season, when they had 10,000.

October 20, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

New Orleans, La. - A naming rights deal with some Louisiana flavor could be getting closer for the New Orleans Arena, according to WVUE.

The television station says negotiations are underway between the Hornets and the Louisiana Seafood Marketing Board and Zatarain's. The new name being considered is the "Louisiana Seafood Arena, Seasoned by Zatarain's."

There's no word on the price tag, but sources the television station some of the money to pay for the naming rights deal could come from BP. The oil giant agreed to pay $30 million to market Louisiana seafood as safe in the wake of last year's oil spill.

The Hornets have been looking for someone to buy the naming rights for the Arena since 2008. The Hornets and the Seafood Board already have a great working relationship. The Arena is the only venue in the world that sells only Louisiana seafood.

The Board could vote on the sponsorship at its Dec. 7th meeting.

In early October, Mercedes-Benz signed a 10-year naming rights deal to sponsor the Superdome.

On another front, Hornets chairman Jac Sperling is negotiating a long-term lease renewal on the venue and says that, and selling 10,000 season tickets, may clear the way for a new owner. He told the Times Picayune that four or five groups are interested in purchasing the team. Just over 9,200 season tickets have already been sold.

"All of the majority investors who are interested in owning 100 percent of the team live in the United States. Some of them live in the New Orleans metro area, some of them live outside. But they all know if they buy the team, the team is going to be here for a long time," he told the newspaper.

March 22, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures

New Orleans, La. - The New Orleans Hornets and the state of Louisiana jointly announced a long-term lease agreement that will bind the team to New Orleans Arena through 2024, and team chairman Jac Sperling, the man appointed to broker deals with the state as well as a new ownership entity, told the New Orleans Times Picayune that final piece of the puzzle soon will be in place.

The new agreement relieves the state from the burden of giving the Hornets any financial subsidies, a potential savings of nearly $70 million, and shifts the responsibility of generating additional revenue to the Hornets by making capital improvements in the Arena whereby the team can earn additional monies through various methods such as re-designed seating areas, advertising and the like.

Also secured in the lease deal is the promise from the NBA of another All-Star Game being played in New Orleans, as it was in 2008.

There are no escape clauses in the contract, unlike the Hornets' current lease which had opt-out provisions if certain attendance or financial benchmarks were not met.

Cost of capital improvements to be funded by the state is around $50 million with approximately $41.3 million of that coming from a proposed bond issue in the next capital outlay bill, and $8.3 million to be provided by the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District (LSED) which had been allotted those funds in a previous capital outlay bill.

"When I arrived here about 16 months ago, the first time I talked to you I articulated three goals that the (NBA) commissioner had set for us at that time with respect to the Hornets. Goal No. 1 was we were charged to trying to turn the Hornets around financially so it would be an attractive asset to a purchaser, the second goal was to find a way to get the long-term lease extension with the state of Louisiana and the third goal was to find an ownership group that would be willing to purchase the team subject to that long-term lease," Sperling said.

"Goal one, as you know, we achieved it . . . . today is the second step which is the lease and it's an important and necessary step toward achieving step three, which is new ownership. We're all very proud to be partners with the state and this lease, when it comes to fruition, will have huge impacts for the state of Louisiana, the Hornets and our fans."

The Hornets' current lease expires following the 2014 season. The new lease, would become effective July 2 subject to the team's sale, legislative approval of extending the Quality Jobs Tax Credit provision, which currently provides the Hornets $3.6 million annually in tax breaks, and legislative approval of the state's capital outlay appropriation.

Fans can expect to see changes in the Arena that will, in effect, make it a "new" building, officials said, with renderings of plans to be released soon.

April 19, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures

New Orleans, La. - New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson will add the NBA Hornets to his portfolio as sole owner, the New Orleans Times Picayune reported.

Benson's rise to the top of a trio of potential owners or ownership groups accelerated in recent weeks when he revisited the bidding process after initially walking away because he thought the league's asking price for the franchise was too steep. He eventually paid $338 million, reports said.

The NBA took the unprecedented step of buying the Hornets from founding owner George Shinn in December 2010 for $318 million, then reportedly put another $18 million into the franchise - after agreements to sell to minority owner Gary Chouest of Galliano twice dissolved, and Shinn was on the verge of selling to outside investors who wanted to move the team.

For the past 16 months, league-appointed steward Jac Sperling, a New Orleans native, has polished the franchise's economic standing, helped spearhead a drive that sold 10,000 season tickets for this season, negotiated a new lease with the state that will bind the team, without escape clauses, until 2024, and found a willing local buyer to solidify the Hornets' future in city.

Benson will assume a lease agreement with the state, void of escape clauses, that keeps the team in New Orleans in what is hoped to be a refurbished New Orleans Arena through two years of capital improvements. Part of the renegotiated lease requires legislative approval of the capital outlay bill that will provide $40 million toward Arena renovations the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District already has $10 million in hand - as well as an extension of the quality jobs tax initiative. Both aspects are expected to pass.

Benson said he plans to run the Saints and Hornets separately with Dennis Lauscha, the Saints executive vice president and chief financial officer, overseeing the business aspects of both clubs and Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis in charge of the sports operations. The Hornets, as the Saints, have separate oversight for player personnel, acquisitions and operation of the basketball end.

Aside from a nickname change - "We have not gotten that approved, but we're not letting up on it, either," Benson said - another top priority will be a permanent practice facility for the Hornets, according to Benson.

"With the state's help," Benson said, "we expect to build a new practice facility. I don't like the idea of playing at some high school gym (the Hornets train at the multipurpose Alario Center in Westwego). The players don't like it. We're going to have something everybody can be proud of, just like with the Saints."

May 10, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures

Baton Rouge, La. - The Louisiana House approved a $3.65 million annual tax rebate for the NBA's New Orleans Hornets part of a state deal to keep them in the Crescent City.

The Baton Rouge Advocate said that after defeating an amendment that conditioned the Hornets' tax rebate on a new contract for Saints quarterback Drew Brees, the Louisiana House approved House Bill 1072 on a vote of 61-37. The Hornets of the National Basketball Association and the Saints of the National Football Association are both owned by Tom Benson, a car dealer from San Antonio.

The legislation was modified to limit the duration of the "Quality Jobs" money to a maximum 10 years instead of the 17-year potential duration of the Hornets' contract. The "Quality Jobs" program provides rebates and tax credits for achievement of specified employment provisions.

The House also added a provision to HB1072 that would require a legislative budget panel review after the first five years.

Besides the tax rebate, the state has agreed to provide $10 million for a practice facility and $50 million for renovations to the New Orleans Arena, where the professional basketball team plays.

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