Effect of Hurricane Katrina on the New Orleans Hornets

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The New Orleans Arena in May 2006. NO Arena CIMG6266.jpg
The New Orleans Arena in May 2006.

Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans, Louisiana on August 29, 2005 and caused extensive damage to the New Orleans Arena. As a result, the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s New Orleans Hornets were unable to play any home games at the Arena for both the entire 2005–06 and 2006–07 seasons, and temporarily relocated to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to became the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. [1] After playing the majority of home games for both the 2005–06 and 2006–07 seasons at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, the Hornets returned to New Orleans for the 2007–08 season.

Hurricane Katrina Category 5 Atlantic hurricane in 2005

Hurricane Katrina was an extremely destructive and deadly Category 5 hurricane that made landfall on Florida and Louisiana, particularly the city of New Orleans and the surrounding areas, in August 2005, causing catastrophic damage from central Florida to eastern Texas. Subsequent flooding, caused largely as a result of fatal engineering flaws in the flood protection system known as levees around the city of New Orleans, precipitated most of the loss of lives. The storm was the third major hurricane of the record-breaking 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, as well as the fourth-most intense Atlantic hurricane on record to make landfall in the United States, behind only the 1935 Labor Day hurricane, Hurricane Camille in 1969, and Hurricane Michael in 2018.

New Orleans Largest city in Louisiana

New Orleans is a consolidated city-parish located along the Mississippi River in the southeastern region of the U.S. state of Louisiana. With an estimated population of 393,292 in 2017, it is the most populous city in Louisiana. A major port, New Orleans is considered an economic and commercial hub for the broader Gulf Coast region of the United States.

Smoothie King Center multi-purpose indoor arena in New Orleans, Louisiana

The Smoothie King Center is a multi-purpose indoor arena in New Orleans, Louisiana. It is located in the city's Central Business District, adjacent to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The arena opened in 1999 as New Orleans Arena and has been home to the New Orleans Pelicans of the National Basketball Association (NBA) since 2002. The New Orleans VooDoo of the Arena Football League played their home games in the arena from 2004 until the team disbanded in 2008. The VooDoo resumed play at the arena in March 2011, until after the 2015 AFL season when the franchise folded.


Following the success of the Hornets' tenure in the city, the Seattle SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City for the 2008–09 season, where they now compete as the Oklahoma City Thunder. [2]

Seattle SuperSonics Professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington, USA 1967–2008

The Seattle SuperSonics, commonly known as the Sonics, were an American professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington. The SuperSonics played in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member club of the league's Western Conference Pacific and Northwest divisions from 1967 until 2008. After the 2007–08 season ended, the team relocated to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and now plays as the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Seattle SuperSonics relocation to Oklahoma City

The Seattle SuperSonics relocation to Oklahoma City was a successful effort by the ownership group of the Seattle SuperSonics to relocate the team from Seattle, Washington to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The team began play as the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2008–09 basketball season, after becoming the third National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise to relocate in the 2000s.

The 2008–09 NBA season was the 63rd season of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic in the 2009 NBA Finals, four games to one.


The New Orleans Arena at right following the storm. SuperdomeAfter.png
The New Orleans Arena at right following the storm.

Because of the extensive damage resulting from the hurricane, where the Hornets would play for the 2005–06 season came into question. Although the New Orleans Arena suffered only slight damage, the flooding surrounding the area made it impossible to use. [3] With the training camp scheduled to begin on October 4, the team announced that the first three weeks of camp would be held at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, instead of their usual location, Alario Center in Westwego. [4] Additionally the team stated that they wanted to play home games within Louisiana, at either the Pete Maravich Assembly Center or the Rivercenter in Baton Rouge. [4] On September 3, Hornets owner George Shinn stated that the storm would not be used as a reason to permanently relocate the franchise. [5]

A training camp is an organized period in which military personnel or athletes participate in a rigorous and focused schedule of training in order to learn or improve skills.

United States Air Force Academy The U.S. Air Forces federal service academy

The United States Air Force Academy, is a military academy for officer cadets of the United States Air Force. Its campus is located in the western United States in Colorado, immediately north of Colorado Springs in El Paso County.

Colorado Springs, Colorado Home rule municipality in Colorado, United States

Colorado Springs is a home rule municipality that is the largest city by area in Colorado as well as the county seat and the most populous municipality of El Paso County, Colorado, United States. Colorado Springs is located in the east central portion of the state. It is situated on Fountain Creek and is located 60 miles (97 km) south of the Colorado State Capitol in Denver.

By September 10, the prospect of securing a Baton Rouge location to host the Hornets was fading as a result of the facilities being utilized for hurricane related relief operations. Numerous cities inquired about hosting the franchise for the season, including Kansas City, Louisville, Nashville, Oklahoma City and San Diego. [6] During this period, Oklahoma City announced that it was the favored choice to serve as the temporary home of the franchise, [7] although by mid-September SMG announced that the New Orleans arena could potentially be ready for occupancy by the All-Star Game break. [8] However, by late September the Hornets finalized a move to Oklahoma City, where 35 games would be played at the Ford Center, as well as six in Baton Rouge at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Additionally, it was announced that three of the games in March could be moved to New Orleans if the arena repairs were complete. [9] At the same time, the NBA also announced the team would be referred to officially as the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets, and that the deal reached with Oklahoma City would allow for the team to return for the 2006–07 season, if necessary. [10]

Kansas City, Missouri City in western Missouri

Kansas City is the largest city in the U.S. state of Missouri. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city had an estimated population of 488,943 in 2017, making it the 37th most-populous city in the United States. It is the central city of the Kansas City metropolitan area, which straddles the Kansas–Missouri state line. Kansas City was founded in the 1830s as a Missouri River port at its confluence with the Kansas River coming in from the west. On June 1, 1850 the town of Kansas was incorporated; shortly after came the establishment of the Kansas Territory. Confusion between the two ensued and the name Kansas City was assigned to distinguish them soon after.

Louisville, Kentucky City in Kentucky

Louisville is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the 29th most-populous city in the United States. It is one of two cities in Kentucky designated as first-class, the other being Lexington, the state's second-largest city. Louisville is the historical seat and, since 2003, the nominal seat of Jefferson County, located in the northern region of the state, on the border with Indiana.

Nashville, Tennessee State capital and consolidated city-county in Tennessee, United States

Nashville is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Tennessee. The city is the county seat of Davidson County and is located on the Cumberland River. The city's population ranks 24th in the U.S. According to 2017 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the total consolidated city-county population stood at 691,243. The "balance" population, which excludes semi-independent municipalities within Davidson County, was 667,560 in 2017.

Delayed return

The club's logo featuring the Oklahoma City location wordmark, used from 2005 to 2007. NOKC Hornets logo.gif
The club's logo featuring the Oklahoma City location wordmark, used from 2005 to 2007.

In order to allow for a full recovery of the New Orleans market in the wake of the storm, the NBA announced on January 31, 2006, that the Hornets would remain in Oklahoma City for the 2006–07 season and return for the 2007–08 season. [11] The league also announced that New Orleans would play host for the 2008 All-Star Game, in addition to hosting the team for six of their 41 home games during the season. [11]

The 2006–07 NBA season was the 61st season of the National Basketball Association. The San Antonio Spurs were crowned the champions after sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.

The 2007–08 NBA season was the 62nd season of the National Basketball Association. The Boston Celtics defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 131–92 to win the 2008 NBA Finals, four games to two. The 2007 NBA draft was held on June 28, 2007 and Greg Oden was selected first overall by the Portland Trail Blazers. However, he missed the entire season due to knee surgery.

2008 NBA All-Star Game

The 2008 NBA All-Star Game was an exhibition basketball game played on February 17, 2008 at the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, home of the New Orleans Hornets. The game was the 57th edition of the National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star Game and was played during the 2007–08 NBA season. This was the first time that New Orleans had hosted the All-Star Game and was the city's first major professional sporting event since the area was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The city was awarded in an announcement by commissioner David Stern on May 22, 2006. The other reported contenders for the 2008 contest was Air Canada Centre at Toronto, who withdrew the bid early in 2005.

Although guarantees by the league and organization indicated a return for 2007–08, many fans in New Orleans were still skeptical of a permanent return due to the popularity of the team in Oklahoma City. [12] Meanwhile, the Hornets opened their season in Oklahoma City with a 26-point win over the Sacramento Kings on November 1, 2005. [13] They played their first game in Louisiana in a loss to the Phoenix Suns on December 21, 2005, [14] and they played the first professional sports event in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina on March 8, 2006, where they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers. [15]

Sacramento Kings American professional basketball team based in Sacramento, California

The Sacramento Kings are an American professional basketball team based in Sacramento, California. The Kings compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the Western Conference's Pacific Division. The Kings are the only team in the major professional North American sports leagues located in Sacramento. The team plays its home games at the Golden 1 Center.

Louisiana State of the United States of America

Louisiana is a state in the Deep South region of the South Central United States. It is the 31st most extensive and the 25th most populous of the 50 United States. Louisiana is bordered by the state of Texas to the west, Arkansas to the north, Mississippi to the east, and the Gulf of Mexico to the south. A large part of its eastern boundary is demarcated by the Mississippi River. Louisiana is the only U.S. state with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are equivalent to counties. The state's capital is Baton Rouge, and its largest city is New Orleans.

Phoenix Suns American professional basketball team

The Phoenix Suns are an American professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA), as a member of the league's Western Conference Pacific Division, and are the only team in their division not based in California. The Suns play their home games at the Talking Stick Resort Arena.

The Hornets completed the 2005–06 season by winning 38 games, tenth in the Western Conference. [16] They became the first team since the 1974–75 Boston Celtics to play home games at four separate venues: the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, and the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma. [17] The Hornets had finished last in attendance in the previous season in New Orleans, [18] but playing in Ford Center, they averaged 18,168 fans, a 78% increase. [19] Referring to the fan support in Oklahoma City, Hornets star Chris Paul said that "You get a feeling you're a part of something special"; mayor Mick Cornett said, "My expectations were lofty, but we've exceeded them." [20]

All repair work on the New Orleans Arena was finished by March 2006, and a new scoreboard and video displays were added during the process. [21] In June 2006, Shinn stated he was pleased with the ongoing recovery process in New Orleans and again reaffirmed his desire to permanently return for the 2007–08 season. However, the Hornets also announced that they were in the process of negotiating with Oklahoma City to play the 2007–08 season at the Ford Center as a contingency plan. [22] The Hornets opened the 200607 season at New Orleans with a win over the Boston Celtics. [23] They improved their final record from the previous season by one game, and again finished tenth in the Western Conference, three games out of the playoffs. [24] Their attendance declined slightly compared to the previous season, and they finished 15th overall in attendance. [25]

The Hornets made their permanent return to New Orleans on October 31, 2007, when they defeated the Sacramento Kings 109-90 to open the 2007–08 season. [26] In the following two seasons, the Hornets averaged an attendance of 15,574. [27] [28] During the 2008 All-Star Game, the NBA donated $5 million towards relief work, and staged an NBA Cares program throughout the city to help rebuilding efforts. [29]

See also

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