Gayle Benson Rumors
A June report in The Athletic from former NBA executive John Hollinger cited league sources that identified the Pelicans as “the most likely team to seek relocation in the coming decade.” Dennis Lauscha, the president of the Pelicans and Saints, had a blunt response to talk of moving the team. “There’s absolutely no way — not on my watch, not on Mrs. Benson’s watch,” said Lauscha. “I was born and raised in New Orleans. It tore my heart out when the Jazz left. The last thing I want is for either of these teams to leave New Orleans. It’s not going to happen.”
Lauscha said he takes calls monthly from interested buyers. At Benson’s direction, he said, he has turned down 10-figure offers. “There is no way, as long as I’m going to be alive, that I would sell the Pelicans,” Gayle Benson added.
The Pelicans signed a 12-year lease extension in 2012, which included $50 million in revenue-enhancing upgrades to the arena and a commitment from the league to bring the NBA All-Star Game to New Orleans. Team and state officials have already met to start spit-balling possible long-term solutions. Two leading possibilities have emerged: a major renovation of the Smoothie King Center, where the team has played since relocating to New Orleans in 2002, or a new arena.
Lauscha said one of the primary goals in signing new lease agreements is to contractually bind the Saints and Pelicans to New Orleans for the long haul. But the rules regarding relocation in the NBA constitution are more lax than those of the NFL. They prevent teams from relocating without the consent of the NBA Board of Governors and take into consideration factors like the proximity and profitability of the new market, along with state and local laws that might affect a team’s success. The Pelicans’ lease expires in 2024. “It may not be an immediate focus, but if we’re going to keep the Pelicans here and we want to continue to attract big events like the All-Star Game, we need a plan within the next five years,” Thornton said.
New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Gayle Benson and team officials revealed the teams’ long-term succession plans in detail for the first time on Wednesday, telling The Times-Picayune and WVUE-TV that they would be sold with the goal of keeping the teams in New Orleans and distributing the proceeds to charity. The arrangement, which has been approved by the NFL, is similar to what happened after Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson died in 2014 and the team was later sold to Terry and Kim Pegula.
Benson, 74, and Saints president Dennis Lauscha, who would serve as the executor of her estate, said the proceeds would be distributed to charities that benefit the people of New Orleans, including the fields of education, health care, arts and sciences and humanitarian causes. A Saints and Pelicans official confirmed details of the plan to ESPN.
Christian Clark: Pelicans statement says all the team’s facilities have only suffered “superficial damage.” Owner Gayle Benson also donated $1 million to the Gulf Coast Renewal Fund. pic.twitter.com/wny1g9GQwD