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Halo 10-24-2005 02:09 AM

New Orleans Arena has solid lease with Hornets
Arena has solid lease with Hornets
Team may be able to play three games at facility in March
Sunday, October 23, 2005

By Jimmy Smith
Staff writer

The Hornets are locked into their lease at New Orleans Arena until 2012 or must pay a $10 million exit penalty under terms of the agreement they signed with the state of Louisiana when the team relocated to New Orleans in 2002.

However, the team does have a "force majeur" or "act of God" clause in the contract that would enable it to leave if the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District, operators of the Arena, don't address damages caused by the offending event within 24 months.

That clause, however, is not likely to be implemented.

SMG regional vice president Doug Thornton told a meeting of the Superdome Commission on Thursday, and reiterated on Friday, that barring unforeseen delays, damage to the Arena caused by Hurricane Katrina would be repaired by February. That possibly would enable the Hornets to play three games in March at New Orleans Arena that were rescheduled for the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge in the wake of the storm.

LSED attorney Larry Roedel explained that several requirements would have to be met for the Hornets to play any games at the Arena this season.

According to the force majeur clause contained in the Hornets' lease, Roedel said, "we (the LSED) have the obligation to repair the Arena within 24 months after Hurricane Katrina, but we know it will be repaired much faster than that.

"Once it is repaired, two things have to happen. First, the manager of the Arena, which is SMG, has to certify that the Arena is ready, and has been restored to its pre-storm condition. Then the NBA has to approve the Arena and the restarting of the Hornets playing games in the Arena."

Thornton said Friday he has been in regular contact with the Hornets, and the team has expressed its desire to possibly play those three March games in the Arena if the facility is deemed ready.

A decision on that, Thornton said, likely would come in December.

Full Story from the Times-Picayune

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