Tom Benson officially takes control of Hornets
New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Tom Benson is officially the new owner of the New Orleans Hornets.
The $338 million sale was finalized Friday, just two days after the NBA Board of Governors approved the deal.
In conjunction with the finalization of the ownership transaction, the Hornets' lease extension with the State has been approved by Governor Bobby Jindal and the Louisiana legislature. The extension will keep the Hornets in New Orleans long term, as well as provide funding for upgrades to the New Orleans Arena. The agreement also included the elimination of all exit options, attendance benchmarks, and financial inducements.
"I'm thrilled to have become the owner of the Hornets," said Benson, who also owns the NFL's Saints. "There is a lot of excitement in the region about the franchise, especially after winning the #1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft. We have been successful with the Saints and I know we can translate that success to our NBA team as well.
"We have the best, most dedicated fans in the world and will need them along the way as we work as an organization to make them proud. Championship performance is tied to fan support and the passion of the New Orleans sports fan is second to none. We look forward to joining up with all of our valued current fans and also introducing this great team game to many more residents of our city and region."
Under NFL rules, Benson is allowed to own both teams because they are in the same market.
When NBA commissioner David Stern announced the sale in April, he called Benson "a firm believer in investing in New Orleans" and said it was the league's goal all along to sell the team to such a person.
The NBA purchased the Hornets for a reported $318 million from George Shinn in December 2010.
The Hornets won the NBA Draft Lottery last month to land the No. 1 pick, which is likely to be used on star Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis.
The Saints, of course, have dominated recent headlines in the city because of their bounty program.
06/15 19:58:13 ET