A few months back the Charlotte Hornets announced that they were planning on creating their own NBA Development League team. Soon after, Raleigh and Greenville took themselves out of the running to host that D-League team, and now you can add Columbia to that list.
Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin announced Wednesday that the city is taking themselves out of consideration.
"As leaders, our job is to recognize opportunities and take advantage of them as best we can," (Benjamin) said. "That means we go in with an open mind and we do our homework, not just identifying problems but seeking solutions to create a way forward that is competitive, responsible and best serves the people of Columbia. When the numbers work out, we move forward. When they don’t, as in this case, we decline and move on to the next opportunity."
This leaves Asheville, Charleston, Greensboro and Fayetteville as the potential cities that could host the new franchise. Charleston may have a leg up on the competition simply because it is the only city left in South Carolina, which, as has been pointed out before, the Hornets should not ignore.
Personally, South Carolina might be the better option for the Hornets when looking at cities. With the recent surge in the Atlanta Hawks popularity, the Hornets are going to want to spread their fan base as far as possible, and sticking a farm system team right in South Carolina could give them a chance to have fanbase, and market, control over two states. If they ignore South Carolina, and choose to keep close to Charlotte, they could lose some of that market and fanbase to the surging Hawks. Of course, that's merely speculation as fans are unpredictable, and this could be wildly over estimating the impact a farm team is going to have on an area. Even so, it wouldn't hurt the Hornets to expand their reach as far as they can possibly take it.
Asheville has been the home to the team's training camp for years now, and seems ripe to host their own team. We have spoken with BEElieve in Asheville, a fan group pushing for the city to host the NBADL franchise, before about why the city should host the team. The team's history with Asheville is something that cannot be forgotten in this situation.
What makes Asheville a favorite to win the Hornets' D-League team is a great current relationship with them. The local sports commission, as well as UNC-Asheville, has been instrumental to getting the Hornets' last three training camps at UNCA as well as host a preseason game two years ago. As such, the Hornets have great familiarity to excellent training facilities for the players. Asheville is also rated as the 24th best minor league sports market according to Sports Business Journal, and 5th among cities with just one sports team. We also are still the only city to have won consecutive D-League titles, and we never got the chance at the "three-peat," something Mr. Jordan knows all too well about.
So which city would you like to see host the new franchise?