Saints owner buys Hornets for reported $338M
By The Sports Xchange
|Al-Farouq Aminu of the New Orleans Hornets goes for a dunk against Paul Millsap of the Utah Jazz on April 13, 2012 at the New Orleans Arena. (Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images/AFP)
The NBA’s year-and-a-half tenure as owner of the Hornets came to an end Friday, when the league sold the franchise to New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson. The purchase came at a reported price of $338 million.
The league had owned the franchise since December 2010, when Commissioner David Stern stepped in to purchase the Hornets from George Shinn, who was eager to sell. Stern wanted to buy time to increase the chances of a local owner stepping forward.
Benson, 84, has owned the Saints since 1985. The Saints had a losing season each of the 18 years before Benson’s arrival. They had their first winning season and made their first playoff appearance in his third season as owner and won the Super Bowl in 2009.
“We expect this club to be one of the most outstanding clubs in the league, otherwise I don’t want to get involved,” Benson said. “This is just a good thing and I’m just glad to be a part of it.”
The NBA has negotiated a new lease for the Hornets to remain in the state-owned New Orleans Arena through 2024.
“The city is one of the country’s treasures and we really have found the perfect owner,” Stern said. “Our goal all along has been to get the Hornets bought by somebody whose commitment to New Orleans would be unrivaled.”
The Hornets (17-42), who beat the Utah Jazz 96-85 Friday, play the Grizzlies on Sunday in the New Orleans Arena.