Stern expects Hornets to play in N.O. next season
GUANGZHOU, China -- NBA commissioner David Stern says he expects the Hornets to play all their home games in New Orleans by the 2007-08 season.
The team has scheduled just six home games for New Orleans in the upcoming season, with the other 35 in Oklahoma City, where the Hornets temporarily relocated after Hurricane Katrina.
Team owner George Shinn expects the team to return home permanently, but said last month he wouldn't rule out a move elsewhere.
However, Stern said a permanent return to New Orleans was the only option at present.
"It will happen," Stern said Sunday in Guangzhou, where the U.S. national team is playing a pair of warmups for the World Championships in Japan later this month.
"We ultimately decide where their games will be scheduled," Stern said. "The following years, our plans are for them to play 41 games in New Orleans."
Before the Hornets, Oklahoma City never had a major sports franchise, and fans strongly supported the basketball team. The Hornets sold out 18 of their 36 games at the Ford Center, with average attendance of 18,717 -- considerably higher than the average attendance in New Orleans.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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