Hornets Will Bring Their NBA Buzz To The Coast - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Hornets Will Bring Their NBA Buzz To The Coast

The Charlotte Hornets are spending time in Mississippi for the same reason the Saints set up an office in Gulfport. The Hornets will need regional support if the NBA is going to make it in New Orleans.

Hornets officials told WLOX News that on Wednesday, they'll meet with some of the Coast's casino executives, business leaders, and elected leaders. They'll try to sell season tickets, and luxury boxes to fans who live 90 miles from the New Orleans Arena.

Finley Hewes is one of the people who will meet with the NBA team. The executive director of the Gulfport Chamber is also a basketball fan who's rooting for the Charlotte Hornets to move to New Orleans.

"I think it would be a great thing if they came over here. I really do," Hewes said. "Just one more element to add to this area."

Through a series of e-mails, Hewes got Charlotte Hornets officials invited to Wednesday's breakfast with the mayor program. The NBA team will have 10 minutes to convince Gulfport business leaders to support New Orleans basketball.

Hewes thinks the Coast can capitalize on the NBA.

"It just adds another element to this area to attract people," he said. "If you want to go to the casino, great, if you want to golf, great, if you want to go take in an NBA game, that's great, too. We have it right here."

The regional marketing approach is not new. Last year, the New Orleans Saints opened a regional office in Gulfport. And Murphy Dore sold 500 season tickets to Mississippi Gulf Coast football fans.

"This area overall is second in season ticket sales in the whole region behind Houma," Dore said. "But as far as new accounts last year, the Gulf Coast is number one."

If the Hornets move their basketball hive to New Orleans, the Coast Coliseum could benefit. Coliseum director Bill Holmes said his facility may get concerts that can't get dates at the New Orleans Arena.

"So it would be good for us," Holmes said. "It would be good for the community because of the fact that we have in our region the opportunity to attend an NBA game. Just as we do an NFL game."

In the NFL, the Saints play eight home games a year. The question that could be answered at meetings later this week is whether NBA basketball has enough power to lure gulf coast fans to New Orleans for up to 44 games a season.

On its web site , the team set a self imposed deadline. It needs to get 10,000 season ticket guarantees, and it has to rent 54 luxury boxes by March 15th if basketball has a chance to return to New Orleans.

by Brad Kessie

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