The New Orleans Hornets, taken over by the NBA just six weeks ago and seemingly on the verge of relocation in the ensuing weeks, are on the verge hitting attendance standards that will keep the franchise in the Crescent City through 2014. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that by drawing 11,758 fans for Monday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder will allow the Hornets to clear a standard preventing an opt-out of the team's lease with the New Orleans Arena at the end of the season. The Hornets drew more than 18,000 fans for Saturday's win over the San Antonio Spurs, and have hit 15,000 fans in each of the team's last three home games.
In the immediate aftermath of the NBA's purchase and takeover of the Hornets in December, it appeared the attendance benchmark would be in danger, leaving open the option that the NBA or a buyer for the team could move the franchise to another city in advance of next season. But a concerted effort by New Orleans' business leaders and much improved play on the court has filled the arena to greater capacity than usual.
The Hornets are riding an eight-game winning streak, and behind Chris Paul find themselves in a race for the West's No. 3 seed with the visiting Thunder and struggling Dallas Mavericks.