SBJ/July 2-8, 2012/Franchises

Saints execs come marching into Hornets jobs

The New Orleans Hornets are reshuffling their front office with New Orleans Saints executives taking on additional management roles at the NBA franchise owned by Saints owner Tom Benson.

The increased front office cross-pollination between the teams comes after two executives recently left the Hornets.
Jean-Paul Dardenne, who heads up marketing partnerships for the Saints, replaces Tom Ward, former Hornets senior vice president of corporate partnerships who left in late June to take a similar position with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Ben Hales, Saints vice president of marketing and business development, will assume the same role at the Hornets as he replaces Matt Biggers, who left his job in late June as senior vice president of marketing for the Hornets to become chief marketing officer at the University of Colorado.

In addition, Hornets Chief Financial Officer Ed Lang has assumed similar duties at the Saints.

The three executives report to new Hornets President Dennis Lauscha.

Benson named Lauscha, who is president of the Saints, to run the Hornets’ business operations shortly after Benson won approval last month to buy the Hornets from the NBA for $340 million.

Lauscha replaced former Hornets President Hugh Weber.

Hornets officials confirmed the staff changes, but executives were not available for comment on their new front office duties.

The front office moves are the latest in a series of moves made by the team since Benson took control of the franchise.

The Hornets agreed to a new long-term lease at the New Orleans Arena that keeps the team locked into the facility through 2024. More recently, the team signed a new television deal with Fox Sports, replacing its previous agreement with Cox Communications. The new deal will include the introduction of Fox Sports New Orleans in October to coincide with the start of the season and give the franchise a broader regional TV footprint.

Team officials would not discuss specific details of current season-ticket sales efforts. Last year, the team sold more than 10,000 full-season tickets under a campaign to build support to attract a new buyer.

Now, with Benson owning the team, the Hornets are looking to drive their season-ticket base by marketing behind their expected selection last week of Anthony Davis as the top overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft.

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