National Basketball Association
ST. LOUIS (AP)-There might no longer be a front-runner in the competition of cities for the Charlotte Hornets.
Given the chance to pick between St. Louis, Louisville, Ky., or any other city, Hornets co-owner Ray Wooldridge declined Wednesday after meeting with St. Louis Blues owner Bill Laurie and Mayor Francis Slay.
Previously, Wooldridge-who said he remains committed to finding the Hornets a new home by Jan. 1-had named Louisville as his top choice.
In St. Louis, Wooldridge said, “You have a tremendous fan base and a huge market. The only thing you are missing is an NBA team to fill the void. We see it as a super town.”
Wooldridge called his previous comments about Louisville’s lead over others bidding for the Hornets an “expression of the process.” He said his franchise needs to consider several factors, including the team’s new arena and naming-rights partner, as well as corporate and community support.
Laurie, in his second meeting with Wooldridge, made a presentation that featured Slay and a large contingent of business and community leaders. Wooldridge called the discussions preliminary, but said he would meet again with Laurie and is “very much interested in pursuing the conversation.
“Your reputation speaks for itself,” Wooldridge said. “No one ever doubted that St. Louis was a tremendous sports city.”
Both Wooldridge and Laurie, a former college guard at Memphis who is married to a Wal-Mart heir, declined to discuss any details of their meetings.
Asked if he’d be willing to sell the team to Laurie, Wooldridge said, “I think Bill Laurie is going to be an excellent owner of an NBA team at some point, but the percentage of that, I have no idea.”
Laurie has twice beamed at news conferences announcing the purchase of an NBA club, only to see the deals fizzle once because his offer was considered too low, once because the league wouldn’t heed to his demand to move the team to St. Louis.
Popularity: 1% [?]