CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A sellout crowd lined up to see the Miami Heat play the Charlotte Bobcats Saturday night, and another line formed outside the Team Store – for the first chance to buy the new Charlotte Hornets gear.
“I don't think I've ever seen this place this packed,” said Scotty Kent, one of two brothers known locally as “Bring Back the Buzz” on twitter.
“A lot of excitement, a lot of buzz going around -- pun intended,” Kent chuckled, “showing the rejuvenation of hornets nation and the city's getting back behind them again.”
Kent already bought two each of hats, T-shirts, and hooded jackets at a preview sale for season ticket holders, but returned one more time Saturday to buy a shirt for his wife.
He braved a big crowd to do it. Firefighters worked their way through the Team Store to make sure it wasn’t exceeding capacity. A line outside wrapped around the front of the arena, and it took almost an hour for all of the customers to get in after the doors opened at 6:30 p.m.
Daryl Stuart and his father, Glenn, were outside the store an hour before that for their chance to get new gear.
“I miss the old Hornets -- Larry Johnson, Mourning, all of them,” said Daryl, “I miss that too.”
Each of them spent more than 30 minutes choosing a shirt and waiting in line to buy it. Daryl got a black one with the sideways Hornet; his dad bought the teal.
“It's nice,” said Daryl. “It's a lot better than the old stuff.”
Even Bobcats CEO smiled with amazement as he passed through the Team Store to look at the crowds.
“Wow, this is amazing to really listen to our fans and how much they wanted to bring the Hornets brand back,” said Whitfield, looking around at the crowd.
“To tell us loudly they wanted to see purple and teal, and then to see the store the first night we're putting our product on the shelves, is just amazing. It really is,” he said.
The Bobcats picked a good night to put their new brand on sale too. They announced the sellout crowd of 19,631 was the most people who had ever seen the Bobcats play at Time Warner Cable arena.
It looked like the team store would break sales records too.
“A lot of people have a connection to this brand,” said Scotty Kent, “and it's showing today.”