SBD/October 29, 2012/Franchises

Tom Benson Brings Stability, Growth To Hornets Entering First Season As NBA Owner

Benson says changing the Hornets' nickname "remains a priority"
Hornets and Saints Owner Tom Benson is “entering into new territory as an NBA owner but is just as eager to win championships and see sellout crowds at the New Orleans Arena as he has been for his NFL franchise,” according to John Reid of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. The Hornets "are no longer a franchise teetering," and have signed new radio and television contracts "with hopes of broadening their fan base throughout the Gulf Coast." The team in September “announced it had surpassed an average of 12,000 tickets sold per game." Additionally, there are "plans to build a practice facility at the Saints’ complex," and New Orleans Arena will undergo $50M in upgrades, which are "expected to be completed before" the '14 All-Star Game is held in the city. Meanwhile, Benson said that changing the team’s nickname “remains a priority.” Benson: "Sometime in the future we’ll get a new name and it will be that much better. Maybe one that relates to our community a littler closer than the Hornets do.” Benson said that he is "still learning about the NBA game, its business model and structure." He "admits that it has been a work in progress, especially with the NBA having guaranteed contracts, while the NFL does not.” Benson said that he "relies on his trusted right-hand man, Dennis Lauscha, the president of both franchises, and executive vice president Mickey Loomis to inform him of everything involving the franchise." Reid noted under the "current management structure, Lauscha oversees the business side while Loomis oversees basketball operations" with Hornets GM Dell Demps. All basketball-related decisions are "made in collaboration among Lauscha, Loomis and Demps before it reaches Benson’s desk for final approval." Benson said that he "will be in his courtside seat" when the Hornets open the '12-13 season Wednesday night against the Spurs in New Orleans, and he "plans to be a frequent visitor" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 10/28).
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