Go North George Shinn
I just got back from a short vacation to Los Angeles.
Quickly, when traveling to la-la land…try to stay at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.
Eat at restaurants like Asia de Cuba and enjoy the nightlife at clubs like the Tropicana Bar.
In between burning the candle at both ends my brother and I drove 45 minutes south of LA to Anaheim to watch an Angels game.
In between laughing my butt off at the team’s rally monkey and watching Vlad Guerrero blast a walk off home run in the bottom of the 9th something dawned on me.
Anaheim is a utopia for a sports owner!
Orange County, California is one of the richest counties in the country. It’s mostly middle to upper middle class families with entertainment dollars to spare.
The Angels annually out draw the Los Angeles Dodgers in overall attendance.
That said, I’ve got yet another idea for Hornets owner George Shinn.
Move your entire operation north!
Invest in the north shore.
Think about it. Next to Jefferson Parish, St. Tammany is the richest parish in the state.
St. Tammany is mostly middle to upper middle class families with entertainment dollars to spare. It’s also grown by nearly 60,000 people since Hurricane Katrina. Population estimates of St. Tammany now sit just under 300,000.
Look, I’m a 6th generation New Orleanian and never plan on moving out of the city but to ensure the long term future of the NBA in the greater New Orleans area I’m all for a relocation to St. Tammany Parish. Maybe it’s time for Shinn to start moving toward the money and not asking the money to come to him.
If Shinn remains in downtown New Orleans and tries to bring those from surrounding suburbs to him he’ll always struggle and play second fiddle to the Saints.
If he brings his product to a fast growing, wealthy parish he has a better chance at making it long term.
The only draw back I see is losing future NBA All-Star games. But after what happened in Las Vegas back in February is that such a bad thing? Plus, keeping the team long term is more important than luring future all-star games.
Think I’m crazy with this idea?
Think again, look at the world Champion Detroit Pistons.
When things were going bad in downtown Detroit, when people were scared to go into that city and the suburbs were flourishing that franchise went to the money and now calls Auburn Hills, Michigan home.
And don’t think the Pistons are a sports exception. The Phoenix Cardinals play in Glendale, Az. The Miami Dolphins play 30 minutes north of the city in Davie, Fl. And the Dallas Cowboys just built a billion dollar stadium in Arlington, TX.
In my opinion, families in St. Tammany would embrace the Hornets the way the families in Anaheim have embraced the Angels. The team would feel like the Hornets were theirs and you could increase the fans base even more by being active in their growing community and in places like Tangipahoa Parish.
Or you can stay in downtown New Orleans, play second fiddle to the Saints and struggle to get the suburb families to travel to the city 41 nights during the school year.
Now, my old boss always used to tell me, “don’t give me a problem, give me a solution.”
How should George Shinn get this done?
Start with asking New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin to give the 6 million dollars the city has ear marked for a new practice facility to St. Tammany Parish. 2 weeks ago during his state of the city speech Nagin said he’d work with surrounding parishes for ‘1 Louisiana’.
Don’t just talk the talk Ray, walk the walk. Let everyone know that keeping the Hornets in the greater New Orleans area is a top priority and if that means giving the money that’s been sitting in escrow for years to another parish to get things done….then do it!
Shinn would then have to work with St. Tammany leaders to build a new state-of-the-art training complex. I’m a dreamer but I envision a complex built to honor flood elevation codes near the waterfront of Mandeville. The structure would also follow the strict historic guidelines of this quaint neighborhood.
From there state leaders could approve a feasability study regarding a new NBA stadium adjacent to the practice facility.
A feasability study came out of the state senate yesterday (June 6th, 2007) which will research a new NFL stadium in eastern New Orleans. So why not one for a Hornets new home in St. Tammany?
Can you picture a brand new stadium and practice facility built to look historic on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville?
Many people would say I’m not only crazy but delusional.
But realize this, many more than I believe that the Hornets are crazy to believe that their current business model is going to work in New Orleans long term.
It’s time to start thinking way outside the box.