Chairman's Corner – December 2012

Welcome to the latest edition of Chairman’s Corner. First of all, on behalf of the entire Bobcats organization, I’d like to wish all of you a happy holiday season. As we look back at 2012, I’d like to once again thank you for your support of our team. We truly appreciate it.

This is our first mailbag of the season and we had a lot of good questions, so let’s get started and keep your questions coming.

Several of you asked about the vision and expectations for this season. My expectation is for us to get better each and every day. I’m not looking for a certain number of wins; I’m looking for improvement, both for players on an individual level and as a team. I’ve relayed that vision to Coach Dunlap, as well as Rod Higgins and Rich Cho, and we are all on board. We want to see improvement every day, we want to see effort every day and we want to see dedication every day. And I believe for the most part so far this season, we have seen those things.

Andre in Maryland asked how we can keep a positive outlook while building this team. We stay positive because we have a goal that we are striving to reach, and that is to be a contender at the top level of the NBA. Every day, with every practice or every game, we move one step closer to that goal. The energy and passion that Mike Dunlap brings as our coach also help us stay positive. Mike has established values and a culture that fit what I’m looking for and what I believe this organization needs right now. In order to get to where we want to be, we need a coach who is enthusiastic and will give his all to help our young team get better, and Mike has definitely brought those traits to our organization.

Similar to that question, quite a few of you asked how long I think it will take for the team to be competitive and/or make the playoffs. I’m not going to make a prediction, because there are a lot of factors that go into that. This season will be very important for us, in terms of seeing how our players develop and continue to improve. By the end of this season, hopefully we’ll know which of our players will be our stars of tomorrow and which ones we should invest in for the future. We’ll also know where our holes are and what we need to do to plug them. I’m hopeful that our development process works, our young players continue to improve and we’re in the playoffs in the next few years, but I don’t think making a prediction or a promise does us any good.

Alvin in Charlotte and Annette in South Carolina asked about what changes we’re considering now that we’re 5-6 weeks into the season. Without going into specifics, I can tell you that Rod and Rich are constantly looking at ways to improve our team, and they leave no stone unturned in that effort. We’ve already made one move this season, adding Hakim Warrick in a trade with New Orleans, and you never know when another opportunity will present itself.

Probably the most common question I’ve gotten is whether we can compete in free agency and whether we will be more active in free agency next summer. We will have a good amount of room under the salary cap this summer and we will not be afraid to use it. However, we are not going to overpay a player just to be able to say we spent our money and used our cap space. We’ll certainly evaluate what our needs are and who is available, and then we’ll make the decisions that are in the best interest of our organization. As for being able to compete and get players to want to come here, we’ve already begun working on that. We’re developing a culture that we believe will be attractive to certain players and hopefully they will see that. From our coaching to our style of play to having an organization that stands for the right things to being prepared for the future, we are implementing a culture that I would want to be a part of if I were still playing and that I think today’s players will want to be a part of as well.

Alex in Charlotte asked about our efforts to connect to the community. Through our Cats Care Foundation, our players, coaches, executives and staff are constantly out and about to lend their time and talents to various causes in the local community. Some recent examples include our annual Cats Care Cornucopia on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, where we partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina to distribute 1,000 Thanksgiving meals to underserved families. Each family of four received a meal that included turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, string beans, cranberry sauce, rolls, sweet potato pie and a two-liter bottle of Minute Maid lemonade. Later that day, we hosted our annual Hoops For Hope Dinner at Strike City for 200 children and their families from A Child’s Place. We also regularly visit shelters and hospitals, in addition to making deliveries with Second Harvest from the Cats Care Mobile Pantry, which is expected to distribute over 1,000,000 pounds of food to approximately 33,000 families this year.

LaShon wrote in from the Pentagon to ask if we had any upcoming discounts for military personnel. First, LaShon, thank you for your service, and secondly, we certainly do. Every Saturday night this season is Military Appreciation Night. Any active or retired member of the military can visit to purchase tickets priced as low as $35 in the 100 level or for $15 anywhere in the 200 level. In addition, the general public can visit the same site to purchase a package that includes tickets to be distributed to military members and their families by the USO of North Carolina, along with a financial donation to the USO of North Carolina.

Greg in Fort Mill, SC, asked about perks and promotions for season ticket holders. In addition to team store discounts, dedicated lines at the box office and concession stands and the opportunity to buy tickets for regular season and playoff games before the general public, our ticket sales and services department has put together some great events through our Cats 365 platform. Cats 365 is designed to connect our partners outside of the game of basketball. These events revolve around five pillars that are meant to enhance your experience as a season ticket holder. They range from brewery tours and wine tastings to golf lessons, from business networking opportunities to community service projects, and even to movie nights on the Time Warner Cable Arena scoreboard.

Jeffery in Charlotte asked what the most difficult decision has been for me since becoming the team’s majority owner. I would say the toughest decision was to go through the process of stripping this team down and trying to build it back up. We were in a place where we could have competed to make the playoffs in most years, but that was not what we wanted. We decided to take a step backward in order to be able to take what we hope will be multiple steps forward as we work to reach our goal of being a contender at the top level of the NBA.

Leo in Winston-Salem wanted to know if it has been more challenging to be an owner than a player. Both are equally challenging, but in very different ways. As a player, the challenge is physical - being in peak condition and competing at a high level every day. As an owner, it is more philosophical. You have to set the goals and put the plans in place, then find the right mix of people - from players to coaches to staff on both the basketball and business sides - that can come together to follow those plans and accomplish those goals.

In addition to your many questions, some of you wrote in with comments and suggestions, and there is one in particular I’d like to mention. Kelvin in Gastonia is a first-time season ticket holder this season, and he thanked us for our transparency, noting that it helps you as fans see the goal and the rationale we’re using to reach it. I’m glad Kelvin brought that up, because that transparency is something that we’ve strived to achieve. As our stakeholders, we believe it’s important that you as fans are aware of our vision. You show your commitment to us by investing in our team both monetarily and emotionally; we owe it to you to be open and honest as we work to build this team into one of which we can all be proud.

Thanks for all of your questions, comments and suggestions, and again, happy holidays.

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