Hornets will open season at home

Published 5:05 pm Wednesday, August 2, 2006

The New Orleans Hornets will play their regular season home opener in New Orleans on Nov. 5, and a second home opener two nights later in Oklahoma City, team officials announced Tuesday.

he Hornets will open the season Nov. 1 at Boston, followed by a road trip to Indiana on Nov. 3 before playing its home opener in New Orleans, which team owner George Shinn recently said he would like to do.

The Hornets temporarily relocated from New Orleans to Oklahoma City before last season following Hurricane Katrina.

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Five other games are scheduled in New Orleans — Dec. 14 against San Antonio; Dec. 16 against Dallas; Jan. 26 against Sacramento; Feb. 23 against Seattle; and March 23 against the Los Angeles Lakers.

The remaining 35 home games, plus any home playoff games, will be played at Oklahoma City’s Ford Center, team officials said.

“From the players and coaches to the front office staff, we are thankful for the support from our fans in Oklahoma City,” Shinn said in a statement.

NBA Commissioner David Stern has said the league plans to return the Hornets to New Orleans and frequently has cited a lease with the New Orleans Arena that requires the team to return.

Before the Hornets, Oklahoma City had never had a major-league franchise, and fans strongly supported the team. The Hornets sold out 18 of their 36 games at the Ford Center last season, with average attendance of 18,717.

Adding in the five games they played in Baton Rouge, La., New Orleans and Norman, Okla., the Hornets’ average attendance of 18,168 ranked 11th in the league. In their last season in New Orleans, the Hornets ranked last in attendance with an average of 14,221.