New Orleans Hornets owner Tom Benson eager to get season started
Just above his prized New Orleans Saints Super Bowl XLIV game ball, Tom Benson keeps another keepsake on the bookcase shelf in his Metairie office. It’s a game ball from the New Orleans Hornets, recognizing the first game he attended last April after purchasing the franchise for $338 million from the NBA.
With prized game balls of the Saints’ accomplishments scattered throughout his expansive office at the Saints complex, Benson is hoping he will have to find more space to display Hornets items.
At 84 and the owner of the Saints since 1985, Benson is no longer just a football guy. He’s 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.
"We’re on the road to putting a great product out there that people are going to be excited about with this club,’’ Benson said Friday. "We’re going to work in that direction and I think we’ll be there. I’m really eager for this season to get started. We have a young team, but they’re a great group of guys.’’
With eight new players highlighted by No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis and fellow rookie Austin Rivers, the Hornets open the regular season Wednesday against the San Antonio at the New Orleans Arena. Benson said he will be in his courtside seat hoping to see a big crowd and a win. He plans to be a frequent visitor for games at the Arena and plans to make trips with his wife, Gayle, to some selected road games.
With Benson on board, the Hornets are no longer a franchise teetering on brink, having to be rescued by the league. Benson's ownership has brought stability. The Hornets have signed new radio and television contracts with hopes of broadening their fan base throughout the Gulf Coast.