September 21, 2005

New Orleans Hornets to play 35 games in Oklahoma City

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New Orleans Hornets, whose home
arena was damaged by Hurricane Katrina, will play 35
regular-season games in Oklahoma City, Oklahama.

The Hornets will also play six home games at Louisiana
State University in Baton Rouge, NBA commissioner Dave Stern
announced on Wednesday.

"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 Oklahoma City Council unanimously approved the proposal
on Wednesday.

The city, the state of Oklahoma and a private investment
group will guarantee $10 million if the franchise struggles and
misses its $40 million revenue goal, The Oklahoman reported on
its website. The group will make money if the team is
successful, the newspaper said.

The team will be known as the New Orleans Hornets/Oklahoma
City for games played in Oklahoma. Those games will be against
the Hornets' Eastern Conference teams.

The six games in Baton Rouge will be against Western
Conference opponents, including the Los Angeles Lakers and
Sacramento Kings.

"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.