The City of Pensacola may be the only remaining city interested in hosting the G League team of the New Orleans Pelicans. Shreveport Mayor Ollie Taylor yesterday failed to win council approval of her plan to build an sports arena for the NBA affiliate and a training facility for the New Orleans Saints. Both teams are owned by Tom Benson.
The Shreveport City Council unanimously turned down the development which would have included about another $139 million of private investment for a retail complex, hotels and residential in the downtown area. Mayor Tyler wanted the city to bond $30 million for the new arena. Last week, our interview with Shreveport Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch revealed Tyler’s plan was meeting opposition. Yesterday, the council agreed with Lynch to kill the ambitious proposal.
Originally, the Pelicans sent out a request for proposals to 11 communities in four states:
Louisiana: Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe, Shreveport and St. Tammany Parish
Mississippi: Jackson and Gulfport
Only Shreveport and Pensacola responded. And now it appears Pensacola is the team’s only choice, unless the Pelicans choose to keep in team in Kenner, La. where its practice facility is located.
Currently the price tag to host at the Pensacola Bay Center the G League team and the Ice Flyers is $5 million, plus an additional half million of operational losses annually. The Escambia Board of County Commissioners made it clear they are not paying to host the team.
How much is Mayor Hayward willing to pay? How much will the Pelicans invest? Can the mayor find others to contribute?
And the biggest question – If hosting this Pelicans affiliate is such a great deal, why did 10 other cities reject it?