Earlier Friday, we brought word that Saints owner Tom Benson was closing in on a deal to buy the NBA’s New Orleans Hornets.
Things have moved pretty quickly and now David Aldridge of NBA.com reports that the league and Benson have reached a tentative agreement on the sale of the team. Per Aldridge, the price of the team will be $338 million and Benson will have to pay 10 percent of the purchase price immediately. The sale also takes the team out of league control for the first time since they bought the franchise from former owner George Shinn for $318 million in 2010.
Benson’s purchase was made possible by a change in NFL rules many years ago that allowed NFL team owners to also own teams from other sports in the same market. That rule forced Rams owner Stan Kroenke to transfer ownership of the NBA’s Denver Nuggets to his son when he bought into the NFL.
The state of Louisiana and the Hornets reached agreement on a deal to extend the team’s lease through 2024 in exchange for state money to improve their arena. One of the contingencies of that deal is that the new owner must pledge to keep the team in New Orleans. That doesn’t figure to be a problem with Benson.