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NBA Likes Charlotte's Chances

October 09, 2002|Associated Press

NEW YORK — The NBA moved a step closer Tuesday to putting a team back in Charlotte, N.C., appointing an expansion committee to look at ownership groups willing to pay the expected price of at least $300 million.

The league's Board of Governors ended a two-day meeting at which they were briefed on the prospects of adding a new franchise. One prospective ownership group includes former Boston Celtics Larry Bird and M.L. Carr, but the league said there is no front-runner for the new team, which could begin play in the 2004-05 season.

Charlotte lost its NBA franchise when the Hornets moved to New Orleans in the off-season. Since then, at least three groups have said they would like to bring a team back to Charlotte, and Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik said the league is near agreement with city officials on a deal to build a new arena with an NBA team as the primary tenant.

"It's a very positive step, but I don't think we can say yet that it's a done deal," Granik said.

The Board of Governors, comprised of a representative from each of the 29 teams, also approved a change in the bylaws for the WNBA, allowing for non-NBA ownership groups to pursue WNBA franchises in non-NBA cities. Currently, the league owns all the teams, and with the exception of the Charlotte Sting, all WNBA teams are operated by the NBA teams in their cities.

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