Tom Benson: I'm not selling my teams
NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson released a statement Sunday afternoon saying he has no intentions of selling his two professional sports franchises, according to WWL-TV.
Benson's statement comes a day after The Times-Picayune's columnist Jeff Duncan argued Benson should sell his team because of the legal issues surrounding him and his heirs.
His daughter Renee Benson and grandchildren Rita and Ryan LeBlanc took him to court after Benson decided to cede control of the Pelicans and Saints to his wife, Gayle Benson.
Benson called the column "preposterous."
"I respond tonight only for the benefit of our fans," Benson wrote. "We have the most passionate fans in both the NFL and NBA, and they deserve better than to read this scurrilous story, which the editors of the TP decided to blast on the front page of Sunday’s edition.
Benson said it was ironic the Times-Picayune is asking him to sell the franchises, because he offered to buy the newspaper in 2012 but was denied.
Below is the full statement:
"I rarely respond to preposterous media reports as I understand them to be part of our business. Many are rarely based in fact, as is the case with the open letter to me from the Times Picayune imploring me to sell our teams for the benefit of the city. The letter is fraught with inaccuracies especially as they pertain to our partnership with the State of Louisiana or the structure of our organization. To be clear, the State of Louisiana has not paid the New Orleans Saints a nickel in inducement payments since 2009 and never since I purchased the then Hornets in 2012. In fact, I have most recently committed $25 million in upgrades towards the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and millions more towards the Smoothie King Center.
However, I respond tonight only for the benefit of our fans. We have the most passionate fans in both the NFL and NBA, and they deserve better than to read this scurrilous story, which the editors of the TP decided to blast on the front page of Sunday’s edition.
I will repeat today as I did yesterday to the reporter. I am not selling either team. That is not in my makeup. I am not retiring or stepping aside, while I do appreciate all of the sincere concern for my health. The legacy of both these teams are still yet to be written and my legacy can be discussed when I am long gone, which by the way is not that important to me right now. What is important to me is getting both our teams back to winning and challenging for championships. That is what our fans want most, and no one is more keenly aware of the urgency of that objective than me. We have had tremendous success both on and off the field and remain model franchises in both leagues, something I am very proud of. Another important part of our legacy is continuing to rebuild our city, our hospitals and our schools to make them leading institutions in this country. My wife Gayle and I do not take this for granted and cherish our ability to participate and contribute annually.
But what strikes me the most is the pure irony of the Times Picayune imploring me to sell for the benefit of the city. I recall in May 2012, reaching out to the Newhouse family imploring them to sell to me or other local ownership as they threatened to become and then became a part-time newspaper. Since then the newspaper has done nothing but layoff staff and move operations out of town.
I take great pride in promoting New Orleans as a big league city - securing a record number of Super Bowls, getting naming rights deals for both the Superdome and Arena, and infusing millions of tax revenue into our state’s general fund. This is on top of the large investments I have made in this city, and I will soon announce more major projects that will showcase our great city.
Our fans must know that both of our organizations are tasked with seeing that we field a winning product both on and off the field. Something that they will be proud of. Despite the misstatements in today’s article, I have always been and continue to be in complete control of our teams, and that is not in dispute. Furthermore, my plan to transfer complete control to Gayle is unassailable and designed to provide the long term stability and resources that all franchises need to produce consistently winning teams. It is our determined objective that our fans, our City, our State, and our entire region will continue to join in and benefit from our success. Selling these teams is not part of a solution, rather it is detrimental to those goals.
I hope everyone enjoyed our win today over the Jacksonville Jaguars and last night when our Pelicans beat the Houston Rockets.
Gayle and I wish everyone a Happy, Healthy and Safe New Year.
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