Wednesday, November 02, 2005

"Your Hometown Hornets"

The season opener for the Oklahoma City/New Orleans Hornets in Oklahoma City last night is a powerful testament to the power of the city's landmark MAPS (Metropolitan Area Projects) initiative that has ushered downtown Oklahoma City into an entirely new realm.

AP reports that part of the Hornets' 93-67 defeat of the Sacramento Kings could be attributed to the deafening roar of more than 19,000 fans in the sold-out Ford Center, one of nine original MAPS projects.

"'With that loud crowd out there, I think we're going to have one of the loudest crowds in the NBA, if not the loudest,' New Orleans forward Rasual Butler said.

"Before the game, Hornets owner George Shinn admitted he was a bit leery when NBA commissioner David Stern recommended Oklahoma City for a temporary home. He was beaming afterward, predicting that if the level of support continues, 'they're going to see a lot more wins than anyone expected.'

"'It was electric. It was absolutely electric. It was as good I've seen it,' Shinn said.

"Shinn said he had to be careful talking about the Hornets' future, but it's still the team's goal to return to New Orleans.

"'When we go back to New Orleans, this city will get a franchise, I'm convinced,' Shinn said. 'Whether the NBA is smart enough to come here or the NHL or the NFL or baseball, somebody will come here. This market is going to be too good for them to pass up.'"

While I remain less than impressed with how city leaders leeched off the misery of New Orleans -- admittedly a somewhat provincial view amid the current enthusiasm for the Hornets -- there is no disputing that having an honest-to-goodness NBA franchise is great news for Oklahoma City and an ultimate affirmation of MAPS and its simple creed that investment in one's community will spark further investment.


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