Originally created 12/23/01

Hornets owners deny sale report

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte Hornets owners George Shinn and Ray Wooldridge are denying a newspaper report that they are interested in selling their NBA team.

"There are no negotiations on the sale of the Charlotte Hornets and the owners have no interest in selling the team," read a statement issued Friday.

The statement was a reaction to a story in The Charlotte Observer on Friday that quoted two sources who said the owners were open to selling the team. The sources reconfirmed Friday that Shinn has said he would consider purchase offers.

Shinn owns 65 percent of the team. He did not respond to a request for comment Thursday. Wooldridge said Thursday he's not looking to sell his 35 percent of the team.

Wooldridge has said the team lost more than $12 million last season, and the team expects to lose more than that this season.

Shinn and Wooldridge have negotiated with representatives of Louisville, Ky.; Norfolk, Va.; New Orleans; St. Louis; and Anaheim, Calif.; about a possible move. Officials in Louisville, Norfolk and St. Louis said Friday they assumed the Hornets owners would consider selling the team to stem their losses.

"I imagine if I were in their position, I'd look at any conceivable possibility," said J. Bruce Miller, a leader of the Louisville group pursuing the Hornets.

Bruce Bradley, co-chair of the committee pursuing the team in Norfolk, said, "If I owned the Hornets, and I were in the situation they were in, I'd consider all options - selling it, moving it or trying to keep it (in Charlotte). "Most business people would look at it that way."

Shinn and Wooldridge have little time left to make a decision.

Wooldridge said Thursday he and Shinn hope to determine the team's fate in January. The Hornets would have to file with the NBA by March to play in another city next season.


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