Jan. 9, 2008

The New Orleans Hornets and the state of Louisiana today reached an agreement to extend the team’s lease an additional two years through 2014. The extension adds two years that were lost during the team's relocation to Oklahoma City following Hurricane Katrina.

Hornets' owner George Shinn

Hornets’ owner George Shinn said he is thrilled that the Hornets will continue to be a part of New Orleans and are looking to their fans to be the heart and soul of the team.

“New Orleans is the right community for the Hornets,” Shinn said. “We are exceeding many of the benchmarks that we set out for our return – including suite and premium seat sales. I am betting that fans want to be part of a winning organization. The ingredients are in place for the Hornets to be successful in south Louisiana. We have a young team that is winning and features dynamic leaders in Chris Paul and Tyson Chandler. Everyone in our organization is in New Orleans because they chose to be here. We want this to be our home for a very long time, and we have great confidence we will succeed.”

The extended lease agreement includes specific benchmarks that the Hornets and State believe are reachable, fair to both sides and allow the team to operate and perform at competitive levels in the NBA. It provides that the Hornets can choose to renegotiate or opt out of the agreement if the team fails to draw an average attendance of 14,735 between Dec. 1, 2007 and the end of the 2008-09 season which would still place them in the bottom three teams in the league. The attendance figure of 14,735 reflects the average attendance for the team in the three years prior to Hurricane Katrina.

The Hornets recently celebrated their first sellout of the season last week and expect even greater fan support at upcoming game and into the playoffs.

“Both the state and the Hornets ownership have great confidence in the teams’ fan base,” said Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco. “With the team’s performance thus far and their work in helping rebuild New Orleans, I believe that the Hornets and their fans are on the right track.”

NBA Commissioner David Stern said the NBA is pleased with the final agreement, as New Orleans is the perfect home for this franchise.

“The NBA has reached out to assist New Orleans in its recovery,” Stern said. “We are committed to making the franchise more successful than ever, and we hope that the Hornets will remain in the city for many years to come.”