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Saturday, February 16, 2002
Council willing to amend 'new owner' statement

Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Charlotte City Council is willing to amend its statement that the city won't build a new arena unless the Charlotte Hornets find a new owner.

The statement included as part of a resolution approving the construction of a $230 million arena -- an incentive to keep the team from moving to New Orleans as its owners have asked -- upset some NBA officials.

Deputy commissioner Russ Granik said Tuesday that the position could alienate other NBA owners, who have to vote on the Hornets' application to move to New Orleans.

Several City Council members say they want to remove the wording eventually, even if they don't vote on it at their scheduled Monday meeting.

"If it's an impediment to the deal, it ought to come out," councilwoman Lynn Wheeler said. "But there's no hurry about doing it this Monday."

The approval of the city manager or the mayor or a unanimous vote of the council would be required for the matter to come to a vote Monday. That seems unlikely since Mayor Pat McCrory said he believes the clause should remain.

McCrory said the City Council, business leaders and even the NBA acknowledge that owners George Shinn and Ray Wooldridge have alienated fans.

"We've done what we need to do at this point" by putting an arena-financing plan on the table, the mayor said. "We've stepped up to the plate."

The NBA has said Charlotte needs new owners available if the league rejects the Hornets' request to move and Shinn and Wooldridge choose to sell.