In the recently released ESPN: The Magazine, the publication ranks all 122 major pro sports teams in the NBA, NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball. The Hornets, who ranked third in the 2008 "Ultimate Standings," this time finished 12th. Within the NBA, only the Cavaliers (fifth) and Spurs (eighth) were listed higher by ESPN.
Here's what ESPN wrote about the Hornets:
"The Hornets may have dropped a few notches -- in both our Standings and the one the NBA keeps -- for falling short of expectations, but you have to hand it to management: It continually keeps the hive buzzing. The secret? Cater to fans (at pregame outdoor Buzz Fests, where season ticket-holders come for the tunes but stay for the suds and grub), make people care about the product and price nobody out. 'I've come to call my Hornets experience the Cheapskate's Guide to the NBA,' says mhartzold on Hornets247.com. 'I spend about $10-15 total.' But even less conscientious cost cutters make out fine. Average seat prices hover around $25, and how's this for niche marketing? For the ladies, $59 buys two tickets, two glasses of wine, two baby doll T-shirts and two $10 gift certificates to the glitzy lounge at the Beau Rivage hotel. For the men, how about a free oil change for each five-game flex plan bought? And for those in need, the team donates 150 tickets each game to local kids. But although attendance is up 19.7 percent, the Hornets aren't hitting every note. The eats inside New Orleans Arena get a thumbs-down from some fans -- which in the Big Easy is a felony -- and many find an excess of sponsored timeout activities off-key. Well, except the halftime baby races, which, everyone agrees, keeps the good times rollin'."
Of the 122 pro teams, the Hornets were No. 1 in a category ESPN calls "Bang for the Buck." ESPN described that category as "Wins over the past three years per revenues directly from fans." The Hornets also finished in the top half of the standings with an 11th-place rank in "Affordability" and 32nd in "Fan Relations."