New Orleans Saints Owner Tom Benson has restructured the ownership transfer and control of the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans. The transfer of ownership will not occur until the time of Mr. Benson's death. At that time, Gayle Benson will assume control of the Saints and New Orleans Pelicans, in addition to other Benson properties.
"This is something I have thought about and prayed about for a while now," Benson said. "Over the past 60 years, I have been fortunate enough to build a number of successful businesses not only in New Orleans but also in San Antonio. Throughout those years, I have included my family as well as a strong management team around me to run these businesses, whether they be banks, automobile dealerships, television stations or professional sports franchises. I want to continue this model of proven success. This is about the legacy of these two teams and everything we have done for the good of the city of New Orleans and our region –my primary goal is to give the organization the foundation to live on after me for many, many years."
Benson added, "I agree that this is somewhat of a change in what has been formally declared but this is best for our teams and our community."
The Saints and Pelicans will remain under the same management structure, with Gayle Benson serving as owner; that has seen both teams prosper and grow. The management structure of having a small team of senior managers oversee both the Saints and Pelicans will remain in place. The executive level management will continue to be led by Dennis Lauscha (President) and Mickey Loomis (Executive Vice President/General Manager). The senior level management team will remain in place with Greg Bensel (Senior Vice President of Communications/Broadcasting), Jean-Paul Dardenne (Senior Vice President of Corporate Partnerships), Ben Hales (Senior Vice President of Marketing & Business Development), Ed Lang (Senior Vice President/CFO), Vicky Neumeyer (Senior Vice President/General Counsel) and Mike Stanfield (Senior Vice President of Sales).
"Continuity is very important and this plan ensures that," Benson said. "We have had the same management team in place that oversees both teams for a number of years. It has proven to be successful and it works. Dennis and Mickey will continue to run the operations as they have done day-to-day for the last 10 years or so. They consult with me daily, but they will continue to have the same authority they have always had with making decisions, large and small and this will continue even when Gayle becomes owner. This is a good structure…the only difference is that my wife Gayle, will be in control of the Saints and Pelicans when I die, which I can assure you will not be anytime soon."
Mr. Benson will continue to represent the Saints and Pelicans at the various league and owners' meetings. And as has been the practice for many years, joining him will be Lauscha and Loomis, as well as Gayle Benson.
"While I have slowed down a bit due to this bad knee, I am still very actively involved in every aspect of my businesses and take part daily in decisions that affect all of my businesses," Benson said. "I enjoy it, I truly do. I love being in the office and being around the coaches and players and staff and being a part of what they are doing. I have just come to a point in my life where I need to make some tough decisions on how things are going to be planned out. My wife, Gayle, is very important to me, she is born in New Orleans. She has been a business woman in this city for many years and is actively involved in many charitable organizations, the Catholic Church, hospitals, schools and university boards, to name a few…I am very proud of her. She is the most logical and natural person closest to me that will ensure the continuity, the stability and the success of our Saints and Pelicans in the city of New Orleans for a long time. The future is bright and secure for both teams here in New Orleans. Plus, she will be surrounded by the best management team in sports in my opinion, just like I have been, who are committed to this community and committed to winning championships."
"Finally, when family members are involved, decision are always tougher. My family, as they have been their whole lives, will be very well taken care of, however, this is about making the correct decision as it pertains specifically to the future of the Saints and Pelicans and their long-term success in the city of New Orleans, where they belong."
The NFL and NBA has been informed of the succession plans set forth by Benson.
Quotes on the decision:
"My husband is an amazing man and what he has selflessly done and built over his life is truly remarkable. What I have learned from him is that to build a strong community, you must first be willing to give, to help those in need and support those that are doing good, then and only then can community give back to you. The most important thing to me is to continue to secure his legacy in the city he loves, New Orleans, forever and we will do that."
- GAYLE BENSON
"We have built a strong foundation of success with the Saints and Pelicans on both the business side and the respective football and basketball operations. This will continue. Mr. Benson remains actively involved in the day to day operations of all of his businesses, addressing both the short and long term plans for the teams are always top of mind items and he decided now was the time to make this change. As President, employee, fan or stakeholder of the Organization, you simply want committed and dedicated ownership who provide the resources, support and guidance to be a champion on and off the field. Mr. Benson provides these assets and this change will continue to strengthen his support. "
- DENNIS LAUSCHA
New Orleans Saints, New Orleans Pelicans
"Our football and basketball operations could not ask for a better owner in Mr. Benson. We have nothing but his unequivocal support and that is important. We have been a successful franchise because of it. Nothing will change with that when Mrs. Benson becomes the owner. That stability creates an environment so that players and coaches want to come here."
- MICKEY LOOMIS
Executive Vice President/General Manager
New Orleans Saints, New Orleans Pelicans
"I am glad to be both friend and spiritual adviser to Tom Benson. Through that relationship, I can assure you he is a man who daily strives to live out the values of Jesus in his daily life. He is consistent in his decisions, both personal and business, that they are rooted in faith and integrity."
- ARCHBISHOP GREGORY AYMOND
Archdiocese of New Orleans