BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- State officials raised complaints Tuesday about a proposal being considered by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board to buy the naming rights to the New Orleans Arena, where the NBA's Hornets play.
Houma-area state Sen. Norby Chabert said several south Louisiana lawmakers think the proposal is a bad idea.
The money would come from $30 million BP PLC gave to market Louisiana seafood after the Gulf oil spill in 2010.
Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham, who oversees the money, told a legislative panel that the state would have to reach a long-term agreement with the NBA to keep the New Orleans Hornets in Louisiana before any naming rights deal was struck. He said the story about the seafood board proposal "has gotten a whole lot more legs than it deserved."
"It has to come across my desk, and before it gets my signature, you and I and a lot of others are going to have a lot more conversation about it," Barham told Chabert, R-Houma, at a meeting of the Senate Natural Resources Committee.
Seafood board executive director Ewell Smith said the purchase of the arena's naming rights could help Louisiana seafood and restaurants statewide. But several trade groups and industry officials argue the money could be better spent elsewhere.
Gov. Bobby Jindal has said the seafood board's naming rights talks have nothing to do with the state's continuing negotiations with the NBA about a long-term lease to keep the Hornets in Louisiana.
The marketing board is appointed by the governor and under the jurisdiction of the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.