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SBD/April 17, 2012/Franchises
Benson Adamant On Changing Hornets' Name To Reflect Something With Local Ties
Published April 17, 2012
LET'S BOOGIE: In New Orleans, John DeShazier noted a “front-running ownership group, headed by California businessman Raj Bhathal, had been identified and considered a virtual lock for months” in the bidding for the NBA team’s ownership, but Benson “swooped in and bought the Hornets when few, other than Stern … were watching.” In the process, Benson “fulfilled every requirement on Stern’s wish list for a New Orleans owner.” DeShazier: “Local? Check. Enthusiastic about keeping the franchise in New Orleans? Check. Receptive of the lease agreement that will bind the franchise to New Orleans through 2024? Check. Financial wherewithal, political influence, business connections and advisory group to raise the franchise to new heights? Check.” Stern called Benson “the most important owner in the history of the New Orleans Hornets.” It is a “heavy load that the Saints’ owner has positioned himself to carry, but Stern’s assessment very well could turn out to be true.” DeShazier wrote Stern has “carried the city’s NBA interests.” Stern said, “I would say that Tom and Gayle Benson are the ideal owners for the New Orleans Hornets. If we were looking for the perfect owner … we couldn’t have done better. We would have had to invent him” (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 4/17).