Oklahoma City is among the cities which could become home to the New Orleans Hornets for the upcoming NBA season, according to sources in Oklahoma City and national reports on Fox Sports Radio. The Hornets' possible move, due to the destruction left behind by Hurricane Katrina, is in the exploratory stage, pending discussions with officials from New Orleans, the Hornets and the NBA. Oklahoma City mayor Mick Cornett did not return phone calls Thursday. Baton Rogue, La., is another possibility, according to the New York Times. The city is home to Louisiana State University's Pete Maravich Assembly Center, which holds 14,164. Houston and Dallas, already home to NBA teams, have offered to host the Hornets, according to the Dallas Morning News. If the Hornets were to relocate to the Ford Center (capacity 18,567), even on a temporary basis, it would give Oklahoma City a unique opportunity to evaluate the feasibility of a major-pro franchise existing locally - and at no financial risk. "We would get a chance to look at something we've always wanted to get a look at, said Tim Brassfield, president of the All Sports Association, which stages the All-College Tournament inside the Ford Center. Nine potential conflicts exist because the Oklahoma City Blazers 2005-2006 hockey schedule already has been set. The Blazers are the Ford Center's primary tenant, but would agree to play in the Myriad when there is a conflict. Blazers chief executive officer Brad Lund also could not be reached for comment. Oklahoma City previously has explored luring an NBA franchise, most recently in the early 1990s, but never has become a serious contender. In January 1997, Oklahoma City was one of nine cities to formally appear before the NHL Board of Governors in New York City in hopes of being granted an expansion franchise. Those franchises were given to the Nashville Predators, Atlanta Thrashers, Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets. The chaos left by Hurricane Katrina is expected to force permanent moves for the Hornets and the NFL New Orleans Saints. The Hornets play their home games in New Orleans Arena across the street from the Superdome, which suffered heavy damage during the storm while being used as a shelter. Strong rumors are swirling the Saints might never play again in New Orleans and will relocate to Los Angeles as early as next season. Similar rumors are beginning to swirl about permanently relocating the Hornets, a franchise that began in Charlotte, N.C., in 1988 and relocated to New Orleans prior to the 2002-2003 season. Even if the Superdome and New Orleans Arena are functional, it's unlikely either team would be financially solvent for several years while the city is being rebuilt. The Saints have since moved into a hotel in San Antonio and will practice in the Alamodome in preparation of their season-opener on Sept. 11 at Carolina. Members of the Hornets' staff have relocated to Houston and are working out of Toyota Center. The Hornets' first preseason game is schedule for Oct. 13 in Denver. The Ford Center is scheduled to host an NBA exhibition Oct. 17 between Seattle and Houston. The Hornets' 82-game regular season schedule begins Nov. 2 at Cleveland. Two days later, the Hornets play Sacramento in their first home game - wherever their home might be.
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