|New Orleans Saints Chief Concludes Huge Deal With NBA|
Monday, 16 April 2012 10:47
American Entrepreneur Tom Benson, the owner for the New Orleans Saints, has put the finishing touches towards a deal to acquire the Hornets, the US city’s National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise, for US$338 million.
The NBA took the unprecedented step of buying the ailing Hornets from George Shinn and Gary Chouest for $318 million in December 2010 and has injected $20 million into the franchise, meaning its sale will come at cost price. The agreement, which is subject to approval from the NBA’s Board of Governors, will allow Benson, who has owned the National Football League’s Saints since 1985, to acquire a team that has the worst record in the Western Conference.
The Hornets also lost their leading player in December when All-Star guard Chris Paul was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. However, the deal will provide some welcome positive publicity for Benson with the Saints having recently been embroiled in the NFL’s ‘bounty’ scandal. The announcement came after the Hornets put an end to speculation over their long-term future by reaching an agreement in principle on a new lease deal which will see the team remain in the city through 2024.
“The city is one of the country's treasures and we really have found the perfect owner,” added NBA commissioner David Stern. “Our goal all along has been to get the Hornets bought by somebody whose commitment to New Orleans would be unrivalled.” In an open letter to the city’s sports fans, Benson said: “I first want to reiterate with our recent ownership announcement and new lease agreement with the state, your Hornets are here to stay for generations to come. I am so excited and proud to be the steward of both professional franchises that are held so dear to the people of this wonderful region.”
He added: “We will continue to do with the Hornets what we’ve tried to accomplish over the years with the Saints: create exciting and memorable experiences for our beloved fans, perform like champions in all we do, inspire and engage this community in creating a limitless future and remain proud global ambassadors for our hometown of New Orleans.”