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NBA Officials Visit Oklahoma City Arena

September 10, 2005

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ NBA representatives toured the Ford Center and met with local officials Friday about the possibility of temporarily moving the displaced New Orleans Hornets to the city.

Mayor Mick Cornett said five NBA officials walked around the facility and discussed possible terms of a lease should the team decide to play its 41-game home schedule at the arena, which seats 19,675 for basketball.

``The NBA is impressed with what we have to offer,″ Cornett said.

Cornett said he believed the success of major league baseball exhibition games, plus the turnout at major concerts, provided evidence that Oklahoma City could support an NBA franchise. He said sales of tickets for college games at Oklahoma and Oklahoma State for similar prices also suggest the team would be marketable in Oklahoma City.

``That old image that we had of Oklahoma City as being a market that was only able to support minor-league events is outdated,″ Cornett said.

The mayor said the main considerations for the NBA would be facilities for games, practice and office work. The Hornets are not expected to be able to open the season in New Orleans, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Cornett said a decision was possible in the next two weeks, and a league official said nothing was imminent. Nashville and Baton Rouge, La., Kansas City, Louisville, San Diego and Las Vegas have been mentioned as other possible relocation sites.

``We’re continuing to work with the Hornets to analyze contingency plans, but no decisions have been made,″ NBA spokesman Tim Frank said.

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