Checking in with the President: Part 4
By: Jim Eichenhofer,, @Jim_Eichenhofer
December 8, 2011

Its time to check in again with New Orleans Hornets President Hugh Weber. Weber is responsible for facilitating all aspects of the franchise, including strategic planning, business development, marketing/branding, and day-to-day business and basketball operations for over 100 employees.

In Part 4, Weber discusses the teams successful campaign to have 10,000 Hornets season ticket holders in place for the 2011-12 season, as well as the upcoming return of the NBA. The Hornets announced at a New Orleans press conference that the teams offseason objective of reaching 10,000 season tickets for 2011-12 has been reached. What was your initial reaction to learning that this goal was achieved?
Weber: I wish there was one moment that I could say that we had a minute to sit back and celebrate the milestone of selling the 10,000th season seat. The fact is that hitting that goal was a critical step, the first step to achieving other lofty objectives for the betterment of the team and the region. Surpassing that milestone simply enhanced our ability to accomplish the goal of getting local ownership and a long-term lease extension with the state. I am very proud of the organization and the fans for doing something that was unprecedented under the circumstances, and at the same time there was never a question in my mind that together we would put this team among the best in the NBA. The Hornets organization was extremely active throughout the summer, including launching an unprecedented 100 Events in 100 Days initiative. From your standpoint, what are some of the things the Hornets learned this summer about New Orleans and the teams fan base while adopting such a personalized program?
Weber: As I looked back on my tenure with the franchise I noticed a pattern: it is often during our greatest challenges that we discover more clearly the DNA of this franchise and we always get better; the developments over the last twelve months are consistent with that idea. The 100 Events in 100 days gave us a personal look into our fans lives. We have maintained those relationships and made the commitment to literally meet face to face with every season ticket holder over the season. That type of first hand listening has made us a better prepared and informed franchise. Today I think we better understand how our team reflects the community we represent and we have a better understanding of what we need to do as the region continues to change. It is a very exciting time to be living in this region and we always want to make sure our brand represents the optimism and positive trajectory happening around us. Looking back on 100 Events in 100 Days, what are some of your favorite personal memories from the many gatherings you attended?
Weber: By far the greatest memories of the summer were the individuals we were able to meet on a nightly basis in very unique environments. Sometimes we gathered in someones living room, sometimes it was a backyard barbeque, or in their office, but we always wanted to make sure the event was special for the host and those that chose to come. We established a good process as a team to make sure the hosts would have a turnkey event they could be proud of and the guests would have an evening they could talk about for a while. There was one consistent theme: most folks showed up curious about what we were doing and left at the end of the night having enjoyed learning something about what we do. You can let your imagination run wild with the questions I heard from fans. We covered everything from background on players (which I was able to address up until July 1) to hot dogs and beer to Honeybees and how we pick them. It was fun for me to see people able to ask questions that they have always wanted to ask, but just didnt have the right time or place to do it. For that reason alone, we will continue to make the Hornets a team that not only promotes spectators but embraces participation in who we are in the community. Turning to basketball, what approach is the front office and coaching staff taking in preparing for the Dec. 26 regular season opener, given that the Hornets had just five players under contract entering training camp?
Weber: Weve been waiting for this moment all summer. You cant always anticipate every scenario that you will face, but we knew the time constraints and challenges we would have. Dell and his staff along with Monty and the coaches had to prepare for the ability to take on every possible situation. It was important to establish processes to deal with the unknown. At one point Dell met with Mickey Loomis to gain insights on the processes that helped the Saints organize steps coming out of a work stoppage. The coaches met regularly through the summer again to reinforce the systems and principles for execution once we came back to work. So an abbreviated ramp up to tip off of the season is challenging, but the group was as prepared as possible to stay focused on our goal of always getting better. You recently announced on your Twitter account, @hughweber1, that you were giving away two free tickets to the Hornets home opener to the first person who correctly guessed the opponent. Do you have any other plans for Twitter usage that fans might be interested to know?
Weber: I started using twitter regularly about two months ago and have enjoyed the accessibility that I have to hear directly from fans in real time. I plan on offering special offers to followers through the season whether its tickets or invitations to some cool things we have planned this year. I also hope to hear ideas on how we can be better and specifically what I can do better to help us make our fans proud.

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