Archive for March, 2011

Governor Bobby Jindal & The New Orleans Hornets
March 18, 2011

Dear Governor  Bobby Jindal,

It’s time to step up and help keep the New Orleans Hornets in Louisiana.

Earlier this week you were part of the Hornets new “I’m In” campaign aimed at helping sell season tickets to prove New Orleans is truly capable of supporting an NBA franchise.  The concept and commercial for “I’m In” are great…but let’s face facts…you’re gonna have to do a lot more than that! 

Keeping a high profile business valued at $300 million dollars should be a priority and is something that needs to happen.

To make the Hornets long-term success a reality I suggest you focus on three objectives:

State Subsidies

Connections to India

Rebranding

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#1 State Subsidies

In today’s tough economic climate and with major cuts to higher education no one wants to use the words ‘corporate welfare’ but giving some type of state subsidy to this NBA franchise will be necessary.  From 2000-2010 the New Orleans Saints received an $18 million dollar cash payment annually from the state of Louisiana.  The Saints did not have to open their books or show how they spent the money.  The funds were part of a 10 year deal to keep the small market Saints viable with the big boys in the NFL. 

In 2010 the Saints got a new deal from the state of Louisiana.  The team no longer gets a lump sum of cash to spend as they choose but the new deal is creatively worked so that the state pays money directly to the franchise (see link below).

http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/103798514.html?showAll=y&c=y

In 2008 & 2009 the state of Louisiana did not pay one penny to the Hornets.  That’s absurd!  How can the super successful Saints get millions and the struggling Hornets get zip? (The Hornets will get $7 million dollars this season from the State of Louisiana/Superdome Commission). 

The Hornets absolutely, positively need a creative deal from the state (similiar to the one the Saints got and detailed in the above link) to keep the team viable. 

The Hornets can actually open the books and show massive losses….which is something the Saints would never do (because they always have and always will make money hand over fist!).    

For those who argue that sports franchises are the only ones receiving special benefits in Louisiana…think again.

The uber-popular film industry in Louisiana is highly controversial when it comes to costing the state cash:

  • film production tax credits cost Louisiana $202 million combined in fiscal years 2007 and 2008, nearly enough to offset proposed higher education cuts.
  •  http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/business/47113387.html

  • A state-ordered study of the Louisiana film industry, completed earlier this year by Economic Research Associates of Chicago, found that in the same fiscal years, all state tax revenue generated by the industry amounted to $26 million.

While very costly, the reason Governor Bobby Jindal supports the tax credit program for the film industry is because studies prove the economic output from the film industry greatly benefits Louisiana and the film industry creates thousands of jobs statewide.  The Hornets benefit the state of Louisiana and create local j0bs.  So please, Governor Jindal, don’t turn your back on the Hornets in their greatest time of need.  Let’s work to find a creative way to help them…which in turn helps our city and creates jobs.

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    #2 Connections to India

    Governor Jindal, when you took office many national and international news outlets wrote about you possibly increasing trade between Louisiana and India. 

  • ‘While Bobby Jindal might not be paying much attention to his parents’ home country and its traditions on the day he takes the oath of office, image-conscious India surely will have an eye on him, the highest-ranking political figure of Indian heritage in America. And that could be an advantage for Louisiana.’
  • When the NBA eventually hammers out a new labor agreement with its players — however long that takes — it’s safe to assume increased revenue sharing and more favorable conditions for owners will be in place. Which many experts expect to lead to an increase in franchise values, especially if Stern opens up new frontiers as he’s contemplating by weighing how strongly to field deep-pocketed interest from the Middle East and other outposts abroad.
  •  (to read more see link below):

    http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/jan/14jindal.htm

    Governor, as you near the end of your first term in office you now have a real chance to make a monumental connection between India & Louisiana.  That connection would be between a billionaire entrepreneur from India and the NBA!  

    Take for example Mukesh Ambani. 

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mukesh_Ambani

    One of the richest men in the world Ambani recently tried to purchase the Liverpool football club in the famed English Premiere League.

    (to read about Ambani and Liverpool click link below):

    http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/41137/20100805/liverpool-football-club-ownership-mukesh-ambani-and-subrata-roy-bid-for-liverpool-club.htm

    The New Owner Of The New Orleans Hornets?

    The NBA has a Russian Owner (Mikhail Prokhorov/NJ Nets) and commissioner David Stern has openly said that his league has at least three men/groups from the middle east extremely interested in buying NBA franchises.

    (to read about groups from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar buying into the NBA clink the link below): 

    http://benmaller.com/2010/12/david-stern-middle-east-buyers-want-nba-franchises/

    Imagine if you will Governor Jindal…all the fame and goodwill (more than you already receive nationally and from the Republican party) you’d receive if you saved New Orleans NBA franchise by bringing an Indian owner into the NBA. 

    David Stern has already done a magnificant job in globalizing the NBA so their is no doubt he would love to expand into one of the world’s fastest growing economies. 

    (Heck, team the new owner from India up with Gary Chouest…who following the OKC game told Hornets beat writer Jimmy Smith of the Times Picayune news paper that he still wants to be a minority owner.)  

     (to read more about Chouest still being interested in owning the Hornets see link below):

    http://www.nola.com/hornets/index.ssf/2010/12/gary_chouest_doesnt_close_the.html

    Sure, the business model of the NBA is somewhat of a disaster right now with 12 teams on record as saying they lost money last season…but a new labor agreement (coupled with assurances from the state of Louisiana) should make the Hornets a solid purchase/investment.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/columns/story?columnist=stein_marc&page=Hornets-101209

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    #3 Rebranding

    I’ve been harping on a name change and a complete rebranding of this franchise since they arrived in New Orleans in 2002.

    As New Orleanians we fashion ourselves as being very unique.  We love what we created…from the food to the music to the culture…their is understandably a tremendous sense of pride in the things that are….dare I say…naturally New Orleans.

    The Hornets arrived with an out-of-state owner who sounded nothing like us, never understood us and with a franchise name (Hornets) that we never accepted.

    Over the past few years the organization has done a good job of hiding the Hornets logo in favor or jerseys that read New Orleans or NOLA.  The team has also incorportaed the Fleur de Bee and Mardi Gras elements but it’s not enough.

    If the team stays in New Orleans with new ownership I truly believe that this situation should be used to rebrand the team with a new name, new colors and a new marketing strategy to better fit our great city.

    Personally…I’ve always been partial to the:

    New Orleans Krewe  (or even the SOUL) (and for some reason I’ve always loved a color scheme of Black & Gold!)

Dear Rev. Kevin WM. Wildes, S.J.
March 18, 2011

Once again I look at the field of teams in the NCAA men’s division I basketball tournament and I see schools very similiar to Loyola University (New Orleans).

Loyola is one of 28 schools forming the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.

Jesuit schools in the NCAA Men’s Tournmant:

Gonzaga University

Marquette University

Xavier University (Ohio)

Georgetown University

St. Peter’s College

On top of these AJCU schools, other universities that are very comporable to Loyola University that are in the tournament are:

Belmont University

Wofford University

University of Richmond

Butler University   

Pointing this out leads me to a blog I republish each year:

Dear Rev. Kevin WM. Wildes, S.J.
As a former Loyola University baseball team captain (’97) I beg you to form an exploratory committee to research the possibility of moving the athletics program into the NCAA division I.
Keeping this blog entry short and sweet I just want to say that it’s time for the school to make a decision.
Either get in or get out.
And please don’t tell me that moving athletics up in classification is too hard, or impossible.
Seattle University is a small Jesuit University that moved from NAIA to NCAA division I.
Seattle’s decision to move up was lead by former University president Rev. Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J. He and the board of trustees made the decision that moving into the highest classification of collegiate athletics makes the entire university better.
Some of the most recognizable Jesuit colleges and universities are Georgetown, Boston College, Marquette, Gonzaga, Xavier and Fordham.
Why? Because all have achieved national athletic recognition.
How many people log onto the Gonzaga University website each year during the NCAA’s March madness?
Probably a lot more than the Loyola New Orleans website.
Of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities playing sports, 23 are NCAA division I.
3 other Jesuit schools are division II or III.
Only Loyola New Orleans and Spring Hill College are members of the NAIA.
Rev. Wildes, if you get behind the idea of moving athletics to a new level, advancing into the NCAA can happen.
I had numerous conversations with your predecessor, Bernard Knoth, but he never seemed very interested in pursuing this idea.
So I ask that you make athletics part of your legacy.
Now, if you did get behind this idea, would certain university factions stand against you? Absolutely.
But moving athletics up to the NCAA level helps the university. Just like in Seattle, more students and alumni would join your cause than oppose you.
I’ve even found a conference (that does not sponsor football) that would no doubt seriously consider adding Loyola.
The Atlantic Sun Conference:
As far as travel goes, the A-Sun would be perfect!
As far as being competative with schools similiar to Loyola…the A-Sun would be perfect.
Am I dreaming to believe that a Loyola president and the board of trustees will get behind the idea of Division I athletics? Probably, but I’ve been on this soap box since 1995…and I’m not ready to step down yet!
Before I go I also want to add that now is the time to seriously explore this move.  UNO has withdrawn from being an NCAA Division I member and Tulane is struggling  mightly! 
Take a chance Rev. Wildes…you’re an amazing leader who’s done a heroic job leading the recovery of Loyola and assisting in the recovery of the city of New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina…adding Division I athletics to your resume would only enhance your legacy!

Thanks for reading.

-Fletch