Sources: ‘No new inquiries’ into Gayle Benson’s Pelicans, Saints ownership stakes

Gayle Benson’s brewery is being sold but the city’s beloved sports teams are staying put.

Sources: ‘No new inquiries’ into Gayle Benson’s Pelicans, Saints ownership stakes

The price tags on, well, everything has been shooting up over the last few years. Sporting properties and media rights are no different, except they are very limited and cost billions of course. The pool of buyers for teams like the New Orleans Pelicans and Saints are tiny but that never stops the biggest sharks with plenty of financial capital from making approaches. It takes strong leadership, a stubborn will, and a few commas in the bank account to ward away suitors of varying intentions.

Gayle Benson has those qualities in spades, and a recent revelation makes that all the more apparent. No, not the Pelicans-Thunder basketball boxing match. Benson might have been bumped down to the second richest person in Louisiana but she still owns two of the most desirable sporting properties on the planet. And yet, the sharks are staying away.

In fact, they are no longer even making calls to the Crescent City. ClutchPoints has confirmed through multiple sources the have been no recent approaches from outside investors seeking substantial stakes in the franchises.

“There are no new inquiries. All quiet, which is good,” was one source’s summary of the situation over the last 11 months.

Another source elaborated last May (Disclosure: I authored both articles.) on how professional teams in every sport, the Pelicans included, “are frequently approached by folks inquiring about minority interest.” There were nibbles then, as the markets resettled following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, outside investors have been sold on the stable leadership and the vision of the succession plan Benson has in place. That long-term plan will keep the teams in the city for a few more decades while injecting funds into state and municipal coffers.


Benson holds all cards with Pelicans, Saints

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Benson has a seat on several boards and committees with the NBA and NFL. The NBA’s Advisory/Finance Committee has relaxed some ownership rules recently because, as a source so eloquently explained, “valuations have skyrocketed in the last years NBA teams.”

Prices are rising and so are the headaches of transferring ownership. Just look at Michael Jordan’s sale of the Charlotte Hornets or the current mess with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Fans in New Orleans have been through enough already, both with category-five level storms and George Shinn.

The new organizational setup is far more efficient both on and off the fields of play going by the team’s records. The Pelicans and Saints seem set up for success for years to come thanks to front-office stability and continued investment from ownership.

President Dennis Lauscha, Executive Vice President David Griffin (Pelicans), and EVP/General Manager Mickey Loomis (Saints) have direct lines of communication with Benson’s office. For instance, each organization has been streamlined yet separated since Griffin was hired. Benson has invested millions into expanding the basketball side of the Metairie, LA-based training center. Loomis was freed up to focus on the Saints and no longer had to share a workspace.

Benson is consolidating some business interest in the Big Easy but the sale of the Faubourg Brewery operation is no canary in the coal mine. Potential investors were not able to sell Benson on parting even with a minority stake in the professional sporting businesses. Offers for the Pelicans and Saints were flattering but still fell short of being enticing in any way.

Having one voice leading the culture from the top down is more valuable. Keeping the Pelicans and Saints in New Orleans is far more important as well.

To paraphrase one source, interested parties can put a price tag on a team, but Benson’s legacy is not for sale at any cost. At this point, they are all a package deal that is definitely not on the market.

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