5. Tom Benson Purchases the Saints
In November of 1984, Saints Owner John W. Mecom Jr. announced that the team was for sale. Tom Benson, a New Orleans businessman became interested in purchasing the club in early 1985 mainly motivated by the threat of re-location. Mr. Benson understood the importance of the team to the region and spearheaded the effort to keep the Saints in New Orleans. Benson reached an agreement with Mecom on March 12, 1985. Ownership transferred to Benson on May 31.
Mr. Benson’s impact was immediate. Just two years after purchasing the team, the Saints hosted their first playoff contest. All 11 of the team’s playoff appearances have come under the direction of Benson including a win in Superbowl XLIV in Miami.
Benson has been responsible for the team’s success and growth. The Mercedes-Benz Superdome has been sold out on a season ticket basis for every campaign since 2006 with a waiting list of over 73,000 people. More than 800,000 spectators came to support the Saints and welcome the team home from their Super Bowl victory for a downtown New Orleans parade.
Community involvement is a top priority to Benson. Under Benson, the Saints have annually put $15 million in charitable contributions, goods, and services back into the Gulf South and Greater New Orleans. For his contributions, the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame has twice recognized the club as one of the five most charitable professional organizations.