The Meaning of Sports
27 Jan, 2011
Once again, Greater New Orleans has proven its talent and resolve through sports.
The Saints served as an extraordinary metaphor for our post-Katina comeback. Now, the Hornets are demonstrating our ability to sustain this championship focus and energy, and apply it - at a moment's notice - with both coordination and effectiveness.
When the effort to save the Hornets was announced, the conventional wisdom was that it was unlikely that the team could meet the season average of 14,309 needed to reach the attendance benchmark. Attendance at some games was dipping perilously close to 10,000, and after a strong start the team's performance was slipping, too.
But then, in an act of remarkable synchronization (that is almost becoming second nature), the business, community and political leadership moved into action. Nearly $500,000 of tickets were purchased by businesses, with many more by the community at large - and the Hornets began playing some of the gutsiest ball in the NBA, resulting in a league-best ten-game winning streak.
The result? A surge in ticket sales so great that a positive outcome - an average of over 14,500 - was clear days before the final game in the measurement period. The Hornets will now stay, with the prospect of an improved cost structure and more sustainable future. This is important for many reasons:
Economic Impact - The Hornets deliver close to $150M in economic impact every year.
Stature - New Orleans is part of an exclusive group of 34 cities that are home to two professional sports teams, a key factor in corporate site selection.
Momentum - With Greater New Orleans and Louisiana experiencing historic, positive change (e.g, breaking the top 10 in business conditions), the loss of the Hornets would have been ill-timed and enervating.
But most of all, this rally - of a community and a team - sent another message to the country, to the NBA and to ourselves that, like our sports teams, Greater New Orleans is talented, tenacious, and has a taste for winning.