New Orleans Saints Rumors
Rita LeBlanc once expected to spend many years running the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, which would have made her one of the most powerful women in pro sports. This week, the disowned granddaughter has spent many hours on a witness stand, trying to persuade a judge that her 87-year-old grandfather, Tom Benson, was not of sound mind when he ousted her, her mother and her brother from ownership positions with his NFL and NBA clubs, and changed his succession plan to place his third wife in line to control his business empire.
“How often do you get a chance to have the Super Bowl take place in the same city where you live?” said Hornets center/forward Jason Smith, explaining his decision to buy tickets. Smith is joined by Ryan Anderson, Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, Robin Lopez, Roger Mason and Greivis Vasquez among Hornets players who bought Super Bowl XLVII tickets. Kick-off in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome – which is literally across Girod Street from the Hornets’ home arena – is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Central, giving players plenty of time to rest after a roughly three-hour flight from Minneapolis. Like several of his teammates, Smith said that his preference would have been to root for the Hornets’ NFL brothers, the New Orleans Saints. With no obvious reason to cheer for either participating team, Hornets players are split evenly between Baltimore and San Francisco.
Similar to the New Orleans Saints, officials with the New Orleans Hornets will closely monitor to Tropical Storm Isaac before making a call when to evacuate. As many as 11 Hornets players have been voluntarily working out at the team’s Alario Center training facility in Westwego. With the storm expected to become a hurricane and setting aim at the Gulf Coast, Greg Bensel, the senior vice president of communications/broadcasting for the Saints and Hornets, said team officials will have contingency plans in place after seeing the storm’s overnight development.
New Orleans Saints season-ticket holders got a chance on Sunday to select their seats for Hornets’ games at the New Orleans Arena. Although the Hornets did not release the total of how many current Saints’ ticket holders participated, there were a steady flow of fans throughout the two-hour session that was followed by another session that was open to the public. In April, Saints owner Tom Benson agreed to buy the Hornets for $338 million.
The league chose Benson, who will be purchasing the team by himself, over a group of investors including businessman Raj Bhathal and former NBA head coach and general manager Mike Dunleavy, and former minority owner Gary Chouest, who had tried unsuccessfully to buy the team from majority owner George Shinn three years ago. The Bhathal group also included Larry Benson, Tom Benson’s younger brother.
Sources said the NBA, which acquired the Hornets in December 2010 from founding owner George Shinn to prevent Shinn from selling to an investor who planned to move the franchise out of New Orleans, confirmed the purchase prices. The league paid about $318 million for the Hornets, then contributed additional capital into the last 16 months, reportedly in the neighborhood of $18 million.
The NBA Board of Governors is poised to approve the sale of the New Orleans Hornets to Saints owner Tom Benson for $338 million, sources familiar with the transaction said Friday. The league’s owners and their representatives were meeting at the St. Regis Hotel and still have to vote in the affirmative for Benson to assume control of the franchise, but at this point there isn’t expected to be any roadblocks standing in the way of a positive vote.