All Signs Point to Hornets Staying in the Big Easy

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Hornets president Hugh Weber says the club is

close to meeting goals seen as necessary to ensure the NBA's

long-term presence in New Orleans.

With Tuesday's announcement that Chevron has committed to a

seven-figure sponsorship, the club now has five corporate sponsors

at the $1 million level for next season. Weber says that despite

the NBA lockout, the Hornets have about 8,900 season tickets sold

for 2011-12, compared to 6,300 last season.

Meanwhile, Weber says the team is working on a new TV deal that

will put games in more households in the region, and a new lease at

the state-owned New Orleans Arena.

Weber says meeting these goals all but ensures the sale of the

NBA-owned team to someone who'll continue to operate the club in

New Orleans.