Monday, March 26, 2001

TWO NBA TEAMS CHOOSE MEMPHIS!

TWO NBA TEAMS CHOOSE MEMPHIS!

Posted By on Mon, Mar 26, 2001 at 4:00 AM

In a bizarre twist, both the Vancouver Grizzlies and the Charlotte Hornets filed relocation papers with the NBA Monday. Both say they want to move to Memphis. ÒWhat happens from this point is that the league will set up an expansion committee,Ó said J.R. "Pitt" Hyde, who is heading the Memphis group seeking an NBA team, at a Monday afternoon press conference. ÒThey will be doing two things. They will be evaluating all the applications to assure that Memphis qualifies in every respect to be an NBA city. The second thing they will be doing is be evaluating the two franchises and they will make a selection between those two.Ó The league has, according to its statutes, 120 days for its Relocation Committee of the Board of Governors to complete its evaluation and give its full recommendations to the entire Board. Earlier Monday, in what amounted to a concession speech, executives with Tricon, the corporation in Louisville that headed that city's NBA efforts, said this morning that Michael Heisley, the owner of the Vancouver Grizzlies, had chosen to move his team to Memphis. Louisville attorney J. Bruce Miller, who headed up Louisville's efforts told The Courier-Journal at 9:50 a.m. that Louisville leaders and Tricon officials got the word from Heisley around 9:30 a.m. E.S.T. The process is far from over. The Memphis "pursuit team" has to finalize their plans, which include financing for a new arena, making arrangements for the team to play in The Pyramid while the new arena is built, and deciding how much of a stake the local group will buy in the ball club. What they are saying elsewhere "Instead of selling the Hornets, co-owners Ray Wooldridge and George Shinn could swap the team for the Vancouver Grizzlies, said two sources familiar with the negotiations. The Hornets would stay in Charlotte, owned by Michael Heisley, who now owns the Grizzlies. Wooldridge and Shinn would own the Grizzlies, who would move from Vancouver to another city, most likely Memphis or Louisville. The sources say a deal is far from sealed, but Charlotte businessmen are trying to work it out within days. A different deal, where local owners would buy out Shinn and Wooldridge, is still in the works. The swap would allow Wooldridge and Shinn, who are not popular in Charlotte, to start anew with another team in another city. A swap would also give Heisley a team with a winning record in a city with a stronger fan base than Vancouver." -- The Charlotte Observer "This wasn't a basketball decision. It was an economic decision, pure and simple. Do you think the good people of Memphis who follow the NBA -- I'm making a broad assumption here that they do exist -- are excited to have the Grizzlies? Vancouver is, flat out, the single most uniformly horrible team that the NBA has had over the last six years. A 20-win season constitutes a milestone for the Grizzlies. Until this year, they had not won a road game in March for years. . . . You might find some cynical naysayers and nabobs of negativism trashing Memphis, but not here. And not in a more important place -- the Grizzlies' locker room. They can still have the condo with the water view, but this time, it'll be the muddy Mississippi River they'll see. It'll be a gorgeous sight." -- Peter May writing for ESPN.com

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