Saints owner Tom Benson to become sole owner of New Orleans Hornets

Saints owner Tom Benson to become sole owner of New Orleans Hornets

By Matt Moore | NBA writer
Saints owner Tom Benson is the new owner of the New Orleans Hornets. (Getty Images)

The Saints have publicly announced that Tom Benson is the new owner of the New Orleans Hornets:
The Associated Press reports official statements from Benson and NBA commissioner David Stern on Friday.

"We expect this club to be one of the most outstanding clubs in the league, otherwise I don't want to get involved," Benson said. "This is just a good thing and I'm just glad to be a part of it."

"The city is one of the country's treasures and we really have found the perfect owner," Commissioner David Stern said. "Our goal all along has been to get the Hornets bought by somebody whose commitment to New Orleans would be unrivaled."

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson is set to become the majority owner of the New Orleans Hornets Friday, pending approval by the NBA Board of Governors. From the Picayune:

All signs are pointing to Benson becoming the owner, and he will own 100 percent of the team, he won't be part of an ownership group.

Benson initially put in a bid for the franchise earlier this year, but later backed away because of the asking price.

via Tom Benson is expected to be the new owner of the New Orleans Hornets |

Benson taking over the team is a win-win situation. It keeps the team in New Orleans under stable ownership, the league's priority since the start, and helps Benson's PR with the ongoing bounty-gate revelations that have rocked the Saints in the past month. It means an end to a tumultuous two-year period for the Hornets which saw former owner George Shinn essentially give up on the team, selling it to the league, who unhappily took over contol.

TNT's David Aldridge reports that the sale is for $338 million.

Under the league's ownership, the team had a prospective trade for Chris Paul vetoed by David Stern acting as owner of the Hornets, then did send Paul to the Clippers in a trade that netted Eric Gordon who went on to miss most of the year with injury. The team has played hard in the interim but without considerable talent, has ammassed the second worst record in the NBA.

With Benson taking over, the Hornets have stable ownership for the first time in their time in New Orleans. It's time for the organization to move on.

The NFL does have a stipulation that its owership can not own an NBA team in another NFL market, but as this is the same market, the stipulation does not apply. Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke has been forced to relinquish operating control of the Nuggets due to his purchase of the St. Louis Rams.

The AP notes that once the sale is finalized and approved there will be additional work to be done on an arena lease.

While preparing the team for sale the league negotiated a new lease for the Hornets to remain in the state-owned New Orleans Arena through 2024.

The framework of ownership negotiations were handled in a way that a new Hornets owner would have to accept the lease worked out between the NBA and Gov. Bobby Jindal. The lease agreement also called for $50 million in improvements to the basketball stadium, which sits right across the street from the Superdome.

Once the NBA approves the sale of the team to Benson, the next step is for the state Legislature to approve the arena lease deal because of the funding needed for stadium improvements. But legislative leaders already have publicly voiced support for the proposed lease deal, which would take effect in July.
After more than a year of uncertainty, though, Friday marks a momentous day in the history of the Hornets franchise.
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