Hornets relocation almost slam dunk
Casting aside concerns about the size of the New Orleans market, an NBA relocation committee recommended Thursday that league owners make the Hornets the Crescent City’s home team.
The National Basketball Association‘s 29 team owners were scheduled to vote Friday, the day after this edition of CityBusiness went to press, during a teleconference. A simple majority of yes votes would be enough to bring the team to New Orleans.
The seven-member relocation committee voted unanimously to make the New Orleans Arena the home of the Hornets. Owners have always approved the relocation committee’s recommendation on relocation issues over the last 25 years, says NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik.
Granik says New Orleans leaders and Hornets owners George Shinn and Ray Wooldridge worked hard to overcome initial concerns that New Orleans didn’t have the corporate base to support an NBA team.
“There was some concern about the size of the market. I think over time the Hornets and the people of New Orleans convinced the committee that New Orleans is like a lot of other relatively small markets that we are in,” Granik says. “We have done well in Portland, Salt Lake City and San Antonio. Those are some of our most successful teams.”
Granik says the league was impressed with New Orleans’ ticket- and suite- selling efforts as well as the stadium and television rights deals offered by the city.
MetroVision Chairman Bill Hines says New Orleans won’t know if it has an important economic development win until the owners votes. But he says New Orleans did put together a strong package.
“Charlotte has been a good market for the NBA and until New Orleans was able to tell its story the NBA wasn’t sure,” Hines said. “They set some objective criteria that we needed to meet and we met them.”
If New Orleans does win the team, it could mean more opportunities to bring in blockbuster events to the Crescent City. With an NBA team, New Orleans can compete for the NBA’s All-Star Game. Jay Cicero, chief executive officer of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, says that event will attract fewer visitors than the Super Bowl does. But it would still be a major economic win for the city.
Seed money incentives to entice music business
Last month in the special session, the state legislature passed a package of tax incentives meant to encourage more movie and TV production in Louisiana.
A new bill, introduced the first day of the regular session last week, could help do the same for the state’s music industry and much more, say backers of the legislation.
Senate President John Hainkel of New Orleans wrote Senate Bill 45, which would establish a $10 million venture capital fund to support emerging Louisiana music businesses such as recording studios, instrument manufacturers and music publishing companies.
Under the legislation, the Louisiana Music Commission would review business plans of applicants and administer loans from a Louisiana Music Industry Development Fund.
“People in the music industry in Louisiana have clamored for a pool they could turn to like this for years, since most of the economic institutions in this state have yet to recognize the value of this industry,” says Steve Picou, assistant director of the music commission. Picou estimates the economic impact of Louisiana music at $3 billion.
The music commission would be required to allocate 97% of the monies in the fund and use the rest to promote the fund outside the state.
A business applying for a loan from the fund cannot have a net worth of more than $15 million or more than $8 million in net income. Nor can the applicant have more than 150 employees, according to the bill.
In addition, no one business can receive more than 15% of the money in the fund. All applicants must show the economic impact their business will have on the state and employ a certain percentage of Louisiana residents.
Hainkel also took the lead on another pro-music industry initiative last year, helping secure $10 million in capital outlay funds for the Grammy Exposition and Hall of Fame planned in New Orleans.
Picou says the fact that a music business venture capital fund is even up for discussion is a victory for the state’s slighted music industry. Pointing also to the hard-won repeal of the Orleans Parish Amusement Tax last week, Picou says the state’s music industry is finally ready “to turn the corner.”