Blog Entry

Lawyer: billionaire wants NBA in Louisville

Posted on: December 9, 2010 11:29 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:24 pm
The city of Louisville is hoping to lure an NBA team to the city and claims to have a billionaire investor ready to make it happen. Posted by Ben Golliver.

About five weeks ago, we noted that the city of Louisville, Kentucky, was trying to throw its name into the NBA ring by starting a Facebook group in hopes of rallying fan support to bring a team to the city. This week, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports that the efforts may be a little more serious than first thought, as the city has spent $10,000s funding research into bringing a team to the city, and the attorney tasked with that research -- who is billing the city $125 an hour for "tasks "tasks such as 'Googling' and reading 'in-depth' team information, performing Lexis-Nexis searches and preparing to-do lists" -- claims an anonymous billionaire has thrown his support behind the effort.  Man, that was a fun sentence to type. The attorney, J. Bruce Miller, has reportedly contacted investors both in the United States and abroad, and claims to have landed a big fish.
“There’s only two ways to get this done: acquire an existing franchise or get an expansion franchise,” Miller said. “You don’t get either one if you don’t have a behemoth investor. What’s different this time is we have our own billionaire — who is among the richest people in the world.”
The paper also notes that the University of Louisville is open to sharing its huge brand new stadium, the KFC Yum! Center, with an NBA team, but that it reserves the right to set its schedule first. Louisville's effort, and the potential availability of an arena, adds fuel to the speculation surrounding the New Orleans Hornets, who agreed to be taken over by the NBA earlier this week, as the Hornets are the most obvious candidate for relocation. Until Louisville reveals who their major investor is, so that the sincerity of the city's effort can be judged, it's difficult to determine how realistic Louisville's effort to land the NBA is, given the presence of other interested destinations like Kansas City and Seattle.  This could be a shrewd lawyer's gravy-train pipe-dream taking a city for a ride, or it could be serious business. Only time will tell.

Since: Aug 25, 2009
Posted on: December 10, 2010 12:32 am

Lawyer: billionaire wants NBA in Louisville

Errr...Nothing against Louisville, but they are a college town first and foremost. Could an NBA team survive there? I think that is definitely open to question. Especially if the team in question is not very good. Leaving aside the idiocy of paying a lawyer US $125/hour for work that a high-school dropout could easily perform, the main question is if Lousiville can come up with the package guarantees to entice an NBA team to move and if, once said NBA team arrives, the city can keep them. Vancouver, San Diego, New Orleans (twice) and probably Toronto all failed. And don't forget, Kansas City had the Kings back in the day and they couldn't make it there either. The one small-market team that has succeeded in a place nobody expected has been the Utah (formerly New Orleans) Jazz - they have absolutely thrived in Salt Lake City. The jury is still out on the Thunder - they are building the right way but there are still questions in my mind if they are going to make it long-term in Oklahoma City. 

And if they really do have a billionaire backer, they need to disclose it. Paul Allen's deep pockets have kept the Trail Blazers in Portland for a long time when franchises like the Sonics were heading for greener climates. And to keep the Hornets in New ORleans - or in Louisville, for that matter - will require a similarly bottomless pit of money. 

And then ther is the question of whether or not the NBA will agree to move the Hornets. Personally, I think they will, IF the right offer comes up. But I also think that in this economic climate - especially with the insecurity about what is actually going to happen with taxes - they are going to have difficulty attracting suitors. And the Hornets are not one of the league's more attractive franchises to begin with, although I think they are far from being the most damaged. A new owner would go a long way toward repairing the Hornets' image. REmember, George Shinn managed to alienate one of the league's most basketball-crazed cities in Charlotte and have not been able to turn a financial profit in New Orleans. So the league is probably going to encounter difficulty in selling the team - at least in the short term. I actually think that instead of trying to sell the Hornets, the league ought to seriously look at contracting - the talent is fairly well diluted as it is and if each conference lost two teams, that would definitely help the situation. And the teams that ought to be looked at first are those that are struggling financially. And the Hornets definitely fall into that category. Now I do not believe the league will seriously look at that option- they are still in expansion mode mentally, form what I see. And this insane talk of expanding to Europe or Asia or Latin America does not make them sound very bright. 

In conclusion, this article is really a lot of smoke. If Lousiville wants to try to get an NBA team, they need to do more than claim they have a billionaire backer. And if the NBA wants to move the Hornets, they need to start building expectations - something they are not currently doing. Lawyers are expert at lying - they do it for a living, after all. So until more evidence surfaces, this sounds to me like just another big bluff trying to get some free publicity print. In that respect at least, it worked marvellously!

Since: Oct 28, 2010
Posted on: December 9, 2010 9:46 pm

Lawyer: billionaire wants NBA in Louisville

I keep seeing KC listed as a possible landing spot for the Hornets.  Is there anything to substantiate this claim?  This would be a dream come true for me but the fellas on sports talk radio and the KC Star don't seem very optimistic...

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