If this team is going to return to Oklahoma City next season, it needs to be because the city of New Orleans is not yet ready. We have not been negotiating for next year, and it wouldn't be appropriate to do so until they determine that they cannot play in New Orleans. And I haven't heard that word yet.
We're growing, we've prospered and all we needed was just a chance. The old image of Oklahoma City being a minor-league city is outdated. We've always been a great place to live with low-cost housing, virtually no traffic congestion, fresh water and clear air. But we've never been perceived as a great place to vacation. All our positives started to mushroom up in the last 18 months.
I've said all along, no way we would be in any competition with Louisiana. If the games can be played there (New Orleans), that's where they should be played. But if they couldn't be played there, I was very interested in trying to be a temporary relocation center for the team. This team is absolutely going back to New Orleans.
It's extremely dry and about every other day it's extremely windy. You put those in a combination and it's a dangerous combination. I'm concerned it may get worse before it gets better.
They made it clear that they liked what they saw and that our arena was appropriate for NBA games.
In Oklahoma City, we know all about tragedy. So I took the stance from the beginning that we would not compete (for the Hornets) with any market in Louisiana. When I contacted the league, I made it clear that if the team decided not to play in Baton Rouge or New Orleans, only then would we be interested. It's my belief that if this team can, then it should go back to New Orleans. Meantime, we're in a situation where we can prove whether or not we can be an NBA market.
I walked out of there with the clear perception that there was really nothing in the city's future concerning the NBA. I've been trying all along to get a tenant for our sports arena. It was built for an NBA or NHL team.
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