New Orleans Pelicans
The professional basketball team based in New Orleans, Louisiana is called the New Orleans Pelicans. The team competes in the National Basketball Association as a member of the Western Conference Southwest Division. The teams’ colors are navy blue, gold, and red, and they play their home games in the Smoothie King Center.
The team was first established as the New Orleans Hornets during the 2002-2003 season, when George Shinn, owner of the Charlotte Hornets at the time, relocated the franchise to New Orleans. Because of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the team temporarily relocated to Oklahoma City, where they spent two seasons known as the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. In 2007-2008, the team returned to New Orleans full-time. The franchise then announced that it would be renamed as the New Orleans Pelicans on January 24, 2013, to be effective after the 2012-2013 season. After this name change, the Charlotte Hornets’ history and records from 1988 to 2002, along with their name, was returned to the original city to be used by the Charlotte Bobcats, who then became the Charlotte Hornets on May 20, 2014.
In the beginning, the Charlotte Hornets were a competitive team throughout the 90s, until the team’s attendance began to fall off drastically. Many people attributed this to the lapse in popularity of George Shinn, the team’s then-owner, who was becoming despised by the city because of an accusation made by a Charlotte woman in 1997, claiming that he raped her. While Charlotte as a whole was as enthusiastic about basketball as ever, the fans took their anger at Shinn out on the team. In 2001, the Charlotte Hornets and the Vancouver Grizzlies applied for relocation to Memphis, Tennessee. However, it was the Grizzlies who ultimately won.
Shinn eventually became unhappy with the Charlotte Coliseum because while it was considered state-of-the-art when it first opened in 1988, it was deemed to be obsolete because of the limited number of luxury boxes. Shinn issued an ultimatum that unless the city built a new arena with no cost to him, the Hornets would continue trying to find a place to relocate. The city of Charlotte initially refused but finally, a new arena in Uptown, that is now known as the Spectrum Center, was included in a non-binding referendum for an arts-related package, and Shinn decided not to move the team. However, the referendum failed, and city leaders had to come up with a new plan to build the arena that did not require voter support. They made it known that they would not even consider building the arena though unless Shinn sold the team. The NBA acknowledged the fact that Shinn was disliked by fans, but the league officials felt that this demand would upset other owners. Because the city council still refused to remove the statement, the Hornets requested to move to New Orleans, Lousiana.