Saints owner Tom Benson can now officially add owner of the Hornets to his resume as the team released a statement confirming the finalization of the sale. The NBA's Board of Governors approved the sale of the team to Benson on Wednesday after the New Orleans businessman reached an agreement to purchase the franchise from the league in April for $338MM. Benson expressed his excitement over completing the purchase of the team on Friday and the opportunity to make the Hornets as competitive as his Saints.
“I’m thrilled to have become the owner of the Hornets,” Benson said. “There is a lot of excitement in the region about the franchise, especially after winning the #1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft. We have been successful with the Saints and I know we can translate that success to our NBA team as well.
The sale to Benson ensures the Hornets will stay in New Orleans for the long haul as the new lease with the state of Louisiana runs through 2024 without any escape clauses, writes Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune. Beyond adding a new owner this spring, the Hornets had the good fortune of winning the lottery giving them the opportunity to take former Kentucky star Anthony Davis with the top pick in the draft. Benson knows how supportive the citizens of New Orleans have been toward the Saints post-Katrina and is optimistic he can continue to build the Hornets brand across the Gulf Coast region.
"We have the best, most dedicated fans in the world and will need them along the way as we work as an organization to make them proud. Championship performance is tied to fan support and the passion of the New Orleans sports fan is second to none. We look forward to joining up with all of our valued current fans and also introducing this great team game to many more residents of our city and region."