In short Bill Laurie is a billionaire by way of his marriage to an Wal-Mart heiress. Sound familiar? Well Denver Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke is also married to a Wal-Mart heiress and also owns 40 % of the St. Louis Rams.
In 1999 Bill Laurie purchased the then Vancouver Grizzlies.
From the ESPN article:
Phoenix Suns owner Jerry Colangelo, who as chairman of the league's expansion committee championed Vancouver's admission for the 1995-96 season, says he is pushing the league to bar new Grizzlies owner Bill Laurie from relocating the team for a "substantial period of time.
"I believed in Vancouver as an NBA marketplace then and I still do," said Colangelo, who described himself as having a "moral commitment" to Vancouver.As we know, Bill Laurie wasn't allowed to move the team to St. Louis. Yet, the Grizzlies were moved to Memphis in 2001 when Michael Heisley bought them. Hmm...
in 2001 owners of the Charlotte Hornets met with Laurie in St. Louis
From the article:
An NBA deal would add at least 41 regular season home dates to the Savvis Center, but Laurie has indicated he wants to buy a team, and Wooldridge has indicated the Hornets are exploring a move - not a sale.I think the interesting thing here is St. Louis almost had an NBA team in the past 10 years twice.
This is despite the argument maintained, by those who feel the St. Louis market is stretched too thin to support an NBA team. St. Louis in 2009 is growing and I expect it to continue its upswing once the economy recovers.
Also interesting here is two teams moved to cities which currently are in attendance trouble. Memphis only sees 66% in attendance and New Orleans has been in financial trouble for sometime to the point of trying to move an all star for money.