Fans Speculate that Hornets Will Return to Queen City
In April 2012, New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson purchased the New Orleans Hornets from the NBA for $338 million.
Benson immediately shared his plans to change the team name to something that would be more suitable for the city of New Orleans. Less than a year later, on Jan. 24, 2013, it was announced that the New Orleans Hornets would be changing their name to the New Orleans Pelicans (after Louisiana’s state bird, the Brown Pelican) beginning the 2013-2014 season.
As a result, rumors began to develop concerning the possibility of the “Hornets” name returning to Charlotte, N.C.
In 2002, Charlotte Hornets owner George Shinn requested that the city of Charlotte build the team a brand new, state of the art basketball arena. The city declined. Shinn then decided to relocate the team to New Orleans, Louisiana. Subsequently, the NBA granted Charlotte with a new team, the Bobcats, in time for the 2004-2005 season. In addition, a brand new arena was built. The Charlotte Bobcats Arena, which would later be named the Time Warner Cable Arena, opened in 2005 a couple of weeks before the Charlotte Bobcats made their debut.
For the next eight years, the team would struggle to consistently fill seats and win games. They appeared in the NBA Playoffs only once, during which they were swept 4-0 against the Orlando Magic. In comparison to the early years of the NBA in Charlotte, the Bobcats could not measure up. The Hornets, with players like Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning, and Muggsy Bogues were the heart of basketball in Charlotte. Before the Carolina Panthers came to town, the Hornets were the hottest ticket in the state, leading the NBA in attendance for many years.
Many Charlotte residents, including myself, have been hopeful that the Hornets would one day return to their rightful place. With New Orleans’ change to the Pelicans, there is hope on the horizon.
Recently, the Bobcats have begun polling season ticket holders, along with randomly selected individuals, about a possible name change from the Bobcats back to the Hornets. Although no official numbers have released, owner Michael Jordan reports that the results have been very mixed. However, with fan groups like “Bring Back the Buzz” and “We Beelieve!” it’s hard to ignore thousands of supporters that would like to see the Hornets return to Charlotte. There doesn’t seem to be any groups lobbying for the Bobcats to remain the team’s name.
No official decisions have been made regarding a potential name change for the Charlotte Bobcats. Citizens of Charlotte will have to play the waiting game to see how this saga continues. The NBA season ends on April 17. Perhaps then the Charlotte Bobcats can begin to look toward their future and focus on building a consistently competitive franchise in the Queen City.