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Hornets to Play in Oklahoma City

NEW YORK, Sept. 21 -- NBA Commissioner David Stern announced today that Oklahoma City will be home to the New Orleans Hornets for the 2005-06 season, playing host to 35 regular season games. The team will also play six regular season games in Louisiana.

The devastation of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region has made it necessary for the Hornets to move to a temporary location for the upcoming season, Stern said. Fortunately, the Hornets have received a gracious invitation from Mayor Mick Cornett and the business leaders and citizens of Oklahoma City to play their home games in the Ford Center, a first-class facility that we hope to fill with new Hornets fans this season.

The team will also play six home games at the Pete Maravich Center on the campus of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

It was important to the Hornets and the NBA that we maintain a presence in Louisiana in anticipation of a return to New Orleans next season, Stern said. "Few American cities have experienced the level of tragedy as Oklahoma City, Mayor Cornett said. I think for that reason our community has a heightened sensitivity for those impacted by Hurricane Katrina. We accept that we are the best solution to solve one of the many problems and pledge our best efforts to support the Hornets."

Like so many businesses and families uprooted by Hurricane Katrina, the Hornets were forced to leave New Orleans while the city recovers from this tragedy, Hornets owner George Shinn said. Fortunately, Oklahoma City is an ideal home for this season and we greatly appreciate the good will shown by Mayor Cornett and the local business community. We will play a majority of our games in Oklahoma City this season with great pride and gratitude, but remain devoted to our home and have set our sights on returning to a rebuilt and vibrant New Orleans for the 2006-07 season.

Ford Center, built in 2002, is Oklahoma Citys state-of-the-art sports and entertainment showcase. The center is home to the Central Hockey Leagues (CHL) Oklahoma City Blazers and the Arena Football Leagues (AF2) Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz, and is designed to host major concerts, sporting events, family shows, ice shows and numerous other world-class entertainment experiences.

The 586,000 square-foot facility seats 19,6745 on four seating levels and features 3,380 club seats, seven party suites and 49 private suites. Ford Center is owned by the City of Oklahoma City, a city that has already welcomed thousands of evacuees from the Gulf region. The facility is the premier project of Oklahoma Citys visionary capital improvement program (MAPS) to finance new and upgraded sports, entertainment, cultural and convention facilities with a one-cent sales tax.

Ford Center is an SMG-managed facility. Headquartered in Philadelphia, SMG is the worlds leading private facility management company. With 168 Facilities, SMG controls over 1.4 million entertainment seats worldwide, and over nine million square feet of exhibit space.

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