Tom Benson

Thomas Milton Benson (July 12, 1927 – March 15, 2018) was an American businessman, philanthropist and sports franchise owner. He was the owner of the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League (NFL) from 1985 to 2018 and New Orleans Pelicans of the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 2012 to 2018.[3]

As a sports team owner, Benson had a Super Bowl victory to his credit, via the Saints winning Super Bowl XLIV (2009).

Tom Benson
Tom Benson 2009
Benson in 2009
Born
Thomas Milton Benson

July 12, 1927
DiedMarch 15, 2018 (aged 90)
EducationSt. Aloysius, 1944
Alma materLoyola University New Orleans, 1948
OccupationBusinessman and sports franchise owner
Years active1985–2018 (as New Orleans Saints owner)
2012–2018 (as New Orleans Pelicans owner)
Net worthIncreaseUS$2.8 billion (October 2017)[1]
Spouse(s)Shirley Landry (deceased)
Grace Marie Trudeau (d. 2003)
Gayle Benson (née LaJaunie) (m. 2004)
Children3[2]

Biography

Early career

Benson was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Thomas Benson, Sr. and Carmen Benson.[4] He served in the U.S. Navy and then graduated with an accounting degree at Loyola University New Orleans in 1948.[5][6] After school he worked as a car salesman at Cathey Chevrolet in New Orleans.[4]

In 1956, he moved to San Antonio to try and revive a poorly performing dealership; he was granted a 25 percent interest in the dealership for his efforts.[4] In 1962, he became full owner of Tom Benson Chevrolet.[4] He was the owner of several automobile dealerships in the Greater New Orleans and San Antonio areas. Benson became wealthy by investing profits from his automobile dealerships in local banks. He eventually purchased several small Southern banks and formed Benson Financial, which he sold to Norwest Corporation in 1996.[7]

New Orleans Saints

Benson purchased the Saints from John Mecom in 1985 after he learned from Governor Edwin W. Edwards that the team was on the verge of being sold to parties interested in moving the team to Jacksonville, Florida. Ownership of the team was officially transferred to him on May 31, 1985, with his intent that the team would stay in New Orleans.

Shortly after acquiring the Saints, Benson gained a reputation as one of the more popular and colorful owners in the league. He hired general manager Jim Finks and head coach Jim Mora, who led the Saints to their first winning season and playoff appearance.

Benson's popularity later declined, however, after numerous attempts to persuade the state of Louisiana to construct a new stadium for the Saints to replace the aging Superdome, suggesting that he might move the team elsewhere if said stadium were not built.

His popularity hit an all-time low in late 2005 after it appeared he was trying to move the team to San Antonio after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans. (See Relocation controversy below for more details.) He later stated that the Saints would return to New Orleans for the 2006 season, which they did. The team's fortunes improved dramatically in the years after their return, including a 31–17 defeat of the Indianapolis Colts on February 7, 2010 to win Super Bowl XLIV, and Benson recovered much of his popularity as well.[8][9]

On July 18, 2008, the Benson-led Louisiana Media Company consummated their purchase of WVUE-DT, the Fox affiliate for the New Orleans area and by virtue of their affiliation, the major carrier of Saints games as part of the NFL on Fox contract. Since the sale, the station has also become the de facto home of the Saints, including coach's shows and preseason games.

Benson was well known for doing the "Benson Boogie" after Saints home victories. Benson, in true New Orleans fashion, would second line dance down the field of the Superdome in the closing minutes of the game while carrying an umbrella decorated in black and gold.[10]

Saints relocation controversy

During the Saints' 2001 negotiations with the state of Louisiana, rumors circulated that Benson would seek relocation if his requests — which included renovations to the Superdome, a new practice facility in suburban Metairie, and escalating annual payments from the state to the team — could not be met. Though he never made public statements to this effect, Benson's business ties to the city — and the availability of the Alamodome as a playing facility — made San Antonio the most common subject of speculation.

When it became clear that Hurricane Katrina's extensive damage to New Orleans and the Superdome would make it impossible for the Saints to play there in 2005, the team temporarily relocated its operations to San Antonio and began negotiations to play home games at the Alamodome. (The Saints, after discussions with the NFL and Louisiana State University, eventually agreed to play one "home" game at Giants Stadium against the Giants, three games at the Alamodome and four games at LSU's Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge).

At the Saints-Falcons game on October 16, the second of two warm receptions of the Saints by the San Antonio community, mayor Phil Hardberger stated that Benson had agreed to schedule negotiations for permanent relocation once the 2005 season is over. In reference to Benson, Hardberger said, "I'm pretty comfortable in saying he wants to be here."[11]

On Monday, October 17, Benson dismissed executive vice president Arnie Fielkow, who had been a public advocate of the Saints' importance to the state of Louisiana, and who had advocated the playing of home games in Baton Rouge. According to Fielkow, Benson told him that if he'd tender his resignation and sign a confidentiality agreement, he'd be paid the remainder of his contract; when he refused, he was fired outright.[12]

Benson's actions quickly drew outrage from Saints fans as well as local and state officials. On Wednesday, October 19, New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin sharply criticized Benson for acts he deemed heartless and opportunistic. Said Nagin: "For them to be openly talking to other cities about moving is disrespectful to the citizens of New Orleans, disrespectful to the Saints fans who have hung in with this franchise through 30-something years under very trying times."[13]

Two days later, Benson publicly stated that he has made no plans to move the Saints to San Antonio. "There are many factors that will affect the future location of our team", Benson said. "That is also true of many other New Orleans-based companies that are faced with deciding their future homes." He said he would make no decisions about the team's future until the 2005 season was over.[14]

On Wednesday, October 26, Benson reiterated his commitment to the New Orleans area in the form of a full-page ad in newspapers around the region. The ad, a letter entitled "Tom Benson Wants to Return to New Orleans", acknowledged the negative reaction surrounding the team's recent actions, but promised that no decision has been made regarding the team's future. Said Benson in the letter, "It is too early to determine, but my desire is to return to New Orleans."[15]

Benson's firm but noncommittal stance compared unfavorably to the statements of the then-New Orleans Hornets, the city's displaced NBA team. Though the Hornets played all but a handful of games during the 2005–2006 and 2006–2007 seasons in Oklahoma City — and even temporarily changed the team's name to the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets, the basketball team's ownership insisted they would return to the recovering city as soon as possible. The Hornets also announced a community relations initiative to keep the team involved in the New Orleans area.

NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue met with Benson and Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco at the Saints' first home game in Baton Rouge on October 30. After the meeting, he stopped just short of making a formal commitment to keep the Saints in New Orleans. Said Tagliabue: "The Saints are Louisiana's team and have been since the late '60s when my predecessor Pete Rozelle welcomed them to the league as New Orleans' team and Louisiana's team. Our focus continues to be on having the Saints in Louisiana." He dispelled rumors that have the Saints relocating to Los Angeles. He also suggested that the Saints may need to focus on becoming more of a regional team, possibly implying a name change to the Louisiana Saints or the Gulf Coast Saints. Tagliabue was to form an eight-owner advisory committee to help decide the team's future.[16]

That same day, Benson charged New Orleans news reporter Lee Zurik with a raised hand while leaving Tiger Stadium following a Saints loss to the Miami Dolphins and lunged at the television news crew grabbing a camera and wrenching it down before being eased away by Saints security. A video also appeared to show Benson angrily responding to a heckling fan. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league would likely take no action against Benson.[17]

On November 11, 2005, an e-mail sent to Commissioner Paul Tagliabue from Benson was leaked to the press. Benson stated in the e-mail that he feared for his life, and his family's safety upon his exit from Tiger Stadium, and would not be returning to any future games in Baton Rouge. Benson declared in the email that security in the stadium was "inadequate" and claimed that his family "could all have been severely injured or killed." However, LSU officials were quick to point out that they had no negative comments from the Saints or the NFL concerning Tiger Stadium security. In addition, the videotape of Benson from October 30 showed him being escorted by at least one security guard, belying his e-mail claim that security was "non-existent." A day later, Saints spokesman Greg Bensel stated that Benson's e-mail was sent in frustration, and that Benson was undecided on whether he would attend any future games in Baton Rouge.[18] Benson did not attend the following week's game at Tiger Stadium on November 6 against the Chicago Bears.

On November 4, 2005, Benson made a deal with Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco that would postpone two important termination deadlines in the team's Superdome lease until after the 2006 season. Benson extended his force majeure clause period until January 2007. Presumably that stood to keep the Saints in New Orleans until January 2007; however, Benson could still have invoked the clause any time prior to then. This seemingly bought the Saints time to explore future options with state officials without having had to make a decision on the future of the franchise immediately. This also allowed the state to focus on more pressing needs in the recovery efforts from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, while allowing the Saints more time to determine whether the region's economy could rebound enough to continue supporting the franchise.[19]

In the midst of this controversy, several groups of investors approached Benson with offers to buy the team and keep them in Louisiana, the most publicized group being one led by Fox Sports analyst and former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw, who is a Louisiana native.[20] However, Benson expressed then and since that he had no intentions of selling the team and planned eventually to hand down ownership to his granddaughter, Saints owner/executive Rita Benson LeBlanc. Benson spoke to press following an NFL owners' meeting on November 15, 2005 at which he reiterated that the team is not for sale, but also stated that other NFL owners, along with Tagliabue, were working with him to keep the team in New Orleans.[21]

On December 17, ESPN reported that Benson had told Saints players that he planned to keep the Saints in San Antonio for the 2006 season and possibly beyond, and that he was willing to sue the NFL for the right to stay there. This was days after NFL Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw advised the Saints players not to renew their leases on their homes in San Antonio because the league planned to order them to return to their home facilities in Metairie.[22] This was also a few days after Benson had reportedly told his staff that they could not return to their Metairie facilities because they were still being occupied by FEMA and National Guard officials and that the New Orleans area had become "unlivable." The State of Louisiana responded by sending Benson a formal letter asking him and the Saints organization to return to the facility at the end of the 2005 season. Included with the letter were statements from FEMA and the National Guard stating that they were no longer using the facility.[23]

On December 30, two days before the Saints' final game of the 2005 season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Benson announced at a press conference that the Saints were returning to their Metairie facility at the end of the 2005 season, and that the team would play as many of their home games as possible during the 2006 season in the Louisiana Superdome, which he said could be ready as early as mid-September, 2006.[24] On January 11, 2006, Benson and Tagliabue announced plans to play all of their 2006 home games in the Superdome. Tagliabue also stated that the NFL was committed to keeping the Saints in New Orleans beyond 2006, calling it a "multiyear effort" and not just a one-year deal. He also stated that the NFL was talking with city officials about possibly hosting another Super Bowl there in the near future, which would be the city's 10th. Benson stated that he was committed to New Orleans "forever, as long as the community commits to me".[25]

Other

In 1992, Benson made a deal to acquire the Charlotte Knights AA minor league baseball team and bring them to New Orleans for the 1993 season, renaming them the "Pelicans" after New Orleans' old minor league team, but the transaction was thwarted when the Denver Zephyrs AAA team relocated to New Orleans to make way for the major league Colorado Rockies (the team became the New Orleans Zephyrs, and are now the New Orleans Baby Cakes).[26][27]

In 1998, Benson was granted a license for a team in the Arena Football League, which finally began play in 2004 as the New Orleans VooDoo. He relinquished ownership of the VooDoo on October 13, 2008 during an owners' teleconference. By this point the entire Arena Football League was in grave financial difficulty and shortly afterward filed for bankruptcy reorganization and the 2009 season was never played. A subsequent AFL team with the same name which played in the early 2010s did so without Benson's involvement.

On April 13, 2012, Benson bought the New Orleans Hornets, now known as the New Orleans Pelicans, from the NBA for $338 million.[3]

In 2017, Benson bought a majority stake in the Dixie Brewing Company from Joe and Kendra Bruno, with plans of returning the brewing operation to New Orleans within two years.[28]

Philanthropy

The Benson family established an endowment fund at Central Catholic High School, in San Antonio, Texas dedicated to the memory of their son Robert Carter Benson, who graduated from the school in 1966. Tom Benson also donated the Benson Memorial Library at Central Catholic. Robert Carter Benson died of cancer in 1985, at the age of 37.

Benson and his family long have been ardent supporters of University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio. The Gayle and Tom Benson Stadium officially opened on campus September 1, 2008, when the Bensons joined with more than 2,000 Cardinals fans and athletes to declare the facility ready for action. The stadium is wide enough and long enough that the Cardinals soccer teams, men's and women's, have begun playing their games here.

Also in San Antonio, Texas at St. Anthony Catholic School there is a Library named after Benson's son who died of cancer.

September 23, 2010, Benson donated $8 million to Loyola University New Orleans in what will be called the Benson Jesuit Center.

In January 2012, Benson and his wife were awarded the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice for their generosity to Catholic Church, the highest papal honor that Catholic laypeople can receive.[29]

In November 2012 Tom Benson and his wife, Gayle, donated $7.5 million towards the construction of Tulane University's Yulman Stadium. The stadium, which opened in 2014, brought the Green Wave back to campus for the first time since the demolition of Tulane Stadium in 1980. The playing surface is known as Benson Field.[30]

In November 2014, Fawcett Stadium at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio was renamed "Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium" in recognition of an $11 million donation by Tom Benson.[31]

In 2015 the Benson family gave $20 million for cancer care and research.[32]

Personal life and death

Benson spent his final years in the exclusive Audubon Place neighborhood in New Orleans.[33] His brother, Larry Benson, has also been in sports ownership and owned the San Antonio Riders of the World League.[34]

Benson was married three times. His first wife was Shirley Landry who is deceased.[35][36] In 2003, his second wife, Grace Marie Trudeau Benson (born March 1, 1927), died of Parkinson's disease.[37] In October 2004, he married Gayle Marie LaJaunie Bird.[38][39]

Tom Benson and his first wife Shirley adopted three children: Robert Carter Benson, Renee Benson, and Jeanne Marie Benson.[40][41] Renee Benson has two adult children, Rita LeBlanc and Ryan LeBlanc.[42][43] Rita Benson LeBlanc was Saints owner and executive vice president until Tom Benson fired her, her brother Ryan and her mother Renee, and wrote them out of his will. She, along with her mother Renee and brother Ryan LeBlanc, then sued Tom Benson claiming he is incompetent and for control of his companies.[44][45][46] Benson's only living child, as of January 2015, is Renee.[47]

All of Benson's property had in fact been put into a family trust whose governing terms, while undisclosed, required him to replace the shares of Saints and Pelicans stock owned by his daughter and grandchildren, with assets of equivalent value. Benson argued he did so by canceling millions of dollars' worth of debt and turning over $500 million in promissory notes due in about 25 years, but trust officials disagreed. The case was settled in 2017.[48]

Benson was hospitalized on February 16, 2018, with the flu. Almost a month later, he died on March 15, 2018, at Ochsner Medical Center in Jefferson, Louisiana, at age 90.[49]

Awards and honors

Asset controversy

In January 2015, after Tom Benson announced that he had cut his estranged adopted daughter Renee Benson and her adult children out of his will, he was sued by Renee and Renee's two children, Rita LeBlanc (also known as Rita Benson LeBlanc) and Ryan LeBlanc of Texas. One of Renee, Rita and Ryan's complaints in the lawsuit is "Upon information and belief, under the apparent supervision of Gayle, the diet of Tom Benson has drastically deteriorated, with him rarely consuming full, nutritious meals, but instead, for some reason, subsisting on candy, ice cream, sodas, and red wine."[51][52][53] Renee Benson, Rita LeBlanc and Ryan LeBlanc are suing for control of Tom Benson's companies including the NFL's New Orleans Saints and the NBA's Pelicans, claiming he was "incompetent".[54][55][56][57]

Benson released a statement saying that the lawsuit and claims against him by his adoptive daughter and her children were false and meritless.[58] In February 2015, Probate Court Judge Tom Rickhoff named former San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger and attorney Art Bayern as co-executors of the testamentary trust of Shirley L. Benson. The two replaced Benson as trustees of the estate.[59] On June 18, 2015, a judge found him competent.[60][61][62]

On February 19, 2016, Judge Rickhoff approved the appointment of Renee Benson, Benson's estranged adopted daughter, as administrator of the $1 billion Shirley Benson Testamentary Trust, which includes the Lone Star Capital Bank in San Antonio, half of five automobile dealerships, part of a large ranch near Johnson City, Texas, a home at Lake Tahoe, Nevada, an airplane, and cash and other real estate holdings.

Benson's attorney said his client, after much wrangling and two weeks of mediation, chose to settle the dispute so as to live his remaining time at peace and to relieve himself of a hefty tax burden required on those assets.[63]

References

  1. ^ "Tom Benson & family". forbes.com. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Tom Benson". Forbes. September 2014. Retrieved February 9, 2015. Children 3
  3. ^ a b "Hornets sale to Saints owner Benson official". NBA.com. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d Los Angeles Times: "Super Bowl Xxi : The Nfl Owners : The Nfc West" by EARL GUSTKEY January 25, 1987
  5. ^ "San Antonio billionaire Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints, dies at 90". 16 March 2018. Retrieved 21 October 2018. Benson graduated with an accounting degree from New Orleans’ Loyola University and served a tour with the U.S. Navy after enlisting at 17 years old.
  6. ^ "New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson dies at the age of 90". Retrieved 21 October 2018. He earned his accounting degree from Loyola in 1948
  7. ^ Phinisee, Tamarind; Lowe Sanchez, Sandra (2003-03-09). "Auto magnate Tom Benson jumping back into bank biz". San Antonio Business Journal. Retrieved 2013-12-28.
  8. ^ Judy Battista, " In Step: Benson Shares In The Recovery Of New Orleans", The New York Times, January 28, 2013.
  9. ^ Nakia Hogan, "With Super Bowl 2013 approaching, Tom Benson remains in the spotlight", Times-Picayune, January 26, 2013.
  10. ^ "Photos: Saints, Pelicans owner Tom Benson leaves behind lasting legacy". New Orleans Pelicans. March 16, 2018. Retrieved August 14, 2018. New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson does the "Benson boogie" on the field of the Louisiana Superdome after the National Football League team's 44-34 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Dec. 6, 1987. The victory qualified the Saints for the playoffs for the first time in the teams's 21-year history.
  11. ^ "Mayor, Saints owner to negotiate at season's end". ESPN.com. Associated Press. October 17, 2005.
  12. ^ "Saints dismiss executive Fielkow". ESPN.com. Associated Press. October 18, 2005.
  13. ^ "Nagin blasts Saints owner for trying to move team". ESPN.com. Associated Press. October 19, 2005.
  14. ^ "Benson says he has no San Antonio plan". ESPN.com. Associated Press. October 21, 2005.
  15. ^ "New Orleans' pro teams reaffirm ties to battered city". ESPN.com. Associated Press. October 26, 2005.
  16. ^ "?".
  17. ^ "?".
  18. ^ "?".
  19. ^ "?".
  20. ^ "?". Archived from the original on 2009-01-07.
  21. ^ "?". Archived from the original on 2012-02-10.
  22. ^ "?".
  23. ^ "?".
  24. ^ "?".
  25. ^ "Saints are expected back in Superdome". Houston Chronicle. Associated Press. January 11, 2006.
  26. ^ "Displaced Zephyrs Stay Silent on Stadium Site in New Orleans", Deseret News, November 25, 1992.
  27. ^ "Charlotte AA team needs new home", Associated Press in TimesDaily, January 25, 1993.
  28. ^ Sayre, Katherine (July 26, 2017). "Tom Benson to build Dixie Beer brewery in New Orleans". The Times-Picayune. NOLA.com. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  29. ^ The Times-Picayune: "Tom and Gayle Benson receive highest papal honor for their generosity to Catholic Church" by John Pope January 19, 2012
  30. ^ Tulane's field to be named for Benson – San Antonio Express-News. Mysanantonio.com (2012-11-02). Retrieved on 2013-07-29.
  31. ^ "New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson pledges $11 million to Pro Football Hall of Fame". ESPN.com. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  32. ^ Center, Foundation. "Gayle and Tom Benson Give $20 Million for Cancer Care, Research". philanthropynewsdigest.org. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  33. ^ Moran, Kate. "Tom Benson's home tops list of the most expensive metro area houses sold in 2008". The Times-Picayune Blog. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  34. ^ My San Antonio: "Auto dealer was Rey Feo, known for generosity" By Neal Morton October 28, 2013
  35. ^ San Antonio Today's Catholic: "Central Catholic dedicates stadium to alum Benson" October 9, 2009
  36. ^ Catholic News Agency: "Catholic history of New Orleans Saints runs deep" February 6, 2010
  37. ^ Business Journals: "Wife of Saints owner Tom Benson passes away" by W. Scott Bailey November 18, 2003
  38. ^ ESPN: "A bye-week wedding for Saints owner" October 27, 2004
  39. ^ Los Angeles Times: "Champs Demand Respect" by Sam Farmer February 02, 2005
  40. ^ Jaquetta White (February 9, 2015). "Little-known daughter of Tom thrust in spotlight". The Advocate. Retrieved February 9, 2015. Tom Benson and his first wife, Shirley, adopted a 5- or 6-month-old Renee Benson from the St. Vincent de Paul Orphanage in New Orleans almost six decades ago. The couple could not have children of their own. Renee was their middle child. A son, Robert Carter, was eight years older, and a daughter, Jeanne Marie, called "Tootsie," was four years younger.
  41. ^ Nick Underhill (January 24, 2015). "Tom Benson's new Saints, Pelicans succession plan has 'unequivocal support' from GM Mickey Loomis". The New Orleans Advocate. Retrieved January 24, 2015. Renee Benson, who was adopted by Tom Benson and his first wife, Shirley, and her son, Ryan, are also no longer associated with the teams.
  42. ^ Brian Solomon (April 23, 2012). "Billionaire Tom Benson Benches Granddaughter, Presumed Heir, For Her "Sense Of Entitlement"". Forbes. Retrieved January 24, 2015.
  43. ^ Jeff Duncan (April 22, 2012). "Rita Benson LeBlanc's conspicuous absence at high-profile events leaves some wondering about her future with N.O.'s sports franchises". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved January 24, 2015.
  44. ^ Jeff Duncan (January 21, 2015). "New Orleans Saints, Pelicans ownership shocker: wife Gayle, not granddaughter Rita, will control empire after Tom Benson dies". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved January 24, 2015. Rita Benson LeBlanc, Renee LeBlanc and Ryan LeBlanc were removed from the Saints' staff directory Wednesday night; Rita also had the title of vice chairman of the board with both franchises.…. Renee and Ryan Benson also have been shut out from Benson's operations. Their offices at the team's facility on Airline Drive have been closed.
  45. ^ Mike Triplett (January 23, 2015). "Controversial ownership decision intended to bring stability to Saints, Pelicans". ESPN.com. Retrieved January 24, 2015. Multiple sources within the two sports franchises, both on and off the record, applauded the move. Many believe the transition will be much smoother if Gayle Benson becomes owner instead of Tom Benson's adopted daughter, Renee Benson, and grandchildren Rita Benson LeBlanc and Ryan LeBlanc.
  46. ^ Brett Martel, Associated Press (January 22, 2015). "Tom Benson's relatives sue over their ouster from ownership positions with Saints, Pelicans". The Vancouver Sun. Archived from the original on February 14, 2015. Retrieved January 24, 2015.
  47. ^ "Saints, Pelicans owner asks judge to dismiss heirs' lawsuit". Fox Sports. AP. January 27, 2015. Retrieved February 9, 2015.
  48. ^ rvargas@theadvocate.com, RAMON ANTONIO VARGAS. "Though excluded from his will, Tom Benson's daughter and grandchildren received much from family patriarch". The Advocate. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  49. ^ Healy, John (15 March 2018). "Tom Benson, long-time owner of the New Orleans Saints, dead at 90". NY Daily News. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  50. ^ Jones, Cristina Sicard, Bob (3 August 2017). "Pro Football Hall of Fame game to kick off in new stadium". news5cleveland.com. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  51. ^ Darin Gantt (January 23, 2015). "Tom Benson says he feels "Great, just like a 50-year-old"". NBC Sports. Retrieved January 24, 2015. Benson created a stir when he announced that he was taking away future control of his assets from his daughter and grandchildren and transferring them to his current wife. They in turn sued him, claiming he wasn’t competent to do so, in a bizarre suit that claims his Gayle Benson is manipulating him, including the claim that she's feeding him mainly candy, ice cream soda and red wine. He in turn issued a statement saying he was perfectly capable of handling his own affairs, and that he’d fight the lawsuit.
  52. ^ Tom Ley (January 23, 2015). "Suit: Saints Owner Tom Benson Is Being Manipulated By His Scheming Wife". Deadspin. Retrieved January 24, 2015. Upon information and belief, under the apparent supervision of Gayle, the diet of Tom Benson has drastically deteriorated, with him rarely consuming full, nutritious meals, but instead, for some reason, subsisting on candy, ice cream, sodas, and red wine.
  53. ^ Mike Triplett (January 23, 2015). "Bensons at odds over businesses". ESPN.com. Retrieved January 24, 2015. Benson, 87, announced Wednesday that he plans to hand over control of the franchises to his wife, Gayle, in the event of his death. But Benson's adopted daughter, Renee Benson, and grandchildren Rita Benson LeBlanc and Ryan LeBlanc filed a lawsuit Thursday claiming he should not be allowed to do so because his "health and mental capacity have significantly declined" and he has "fallen under the undue influence" of Gayle, whom Benson married in 2004.
  54. ^ "Rita Benson LeBlanc, family file suit claiming Tom Benson incompetent to control New Orleans Saints, Pelicans". The Times-Picayune. January 22, 2015. Retrieved January 24, 2015.
  55. ^ NOLA.com (January 22, 2015). "Read the complete Rita Benson LeBlanc family lawsuit against Tom and Gayle Benson". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved January 24, 2015. The suit was filed one day after Tom Benson unexpectedly announced plans to transfer future ownership of the clubs to wife, Gayle, cutting off his daughter, Renee LeBlanc, and his two grandchildren, Ryan LeBlanc and Rita Benson LeBlanc, who until recently had been designated as the heir apparent.
  56. ^ Larry Holder (January 23, 2015). "Given Rita Benson LeBlanc's volatility, Tom Benson's wife Gayle best option to take reins: Larry Holder". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved January 24, 2015.
  57. ^ Gabe Hiatt (January 22, 2015). "Spurned daughter, grandchildren sue Saints owner for writing them out of will". The Washington Post blog. Retrieved January 24, 2015.
  58. ^ Mike Triplett (January 23, 2015). "Bensons at odds over businesses". ESPN.com. Retrieved January 24, 2015.
  59. ^ David Hendricks (February 5, 2015). "Hardberger named co-receiver of Benson Trust". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved March 2, 2015.
  60. ^ "Judge finds Tom Benson competent to run Saints, Pelicans". NOLA.com. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  61. ^ Van Darden. "Tom Benson to remain in control of estate". KSAT. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  62. ^ "Tom Benson competent to run New Orleans Saints, Pelicans, judge rules". ESPN.com. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  63. ^ David Hendricks, "Benson's daughter controls $1B trust: Judge OKS deal after 13-month legal fight", San Antonio Express-News, February 20, 2016, pp.1, A13
2011 Incarnate Word Cardinals football team

The 2011 Incarnate Word Cardinals football team represented the University of the Incarnate Word in the 2011 NCAA Division II football season. Home games were played at Gayle and Tom Benson Stadium. They finished the season 2–9, 1–7 in Lone Star play to finish in a tie for sixth place.

2012 Incarnate Word Cardinals football team

The 2012 Incarnate Word Cardinals football team represented the University of the Incarnate Word in the 2012 NCAA Division II football season. This was be the Cardinals' final season in the Lone Star Conference as they began the transition to the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) in 2013. Home games were played at Gayle and Tom Benson Stadium. They finished the season 2–9, 1–7 in Lone Star play to finish in a tie for eighth place.

2014 Incarnate Word Cardinals football team

The 2014 Incarnate Word Cardinals football team represented the University of the Incarnate Word in the 2014 NCAA Division I FCS football season. The Cardinals played their first season in the Southland Conference. They were led by third-year head coach Larry Kennan. Home games were played at Gayle and Tom Benson Stadium. They finished the season 2–9, 2–6 in Southland play to finish in ninth place.

2015 IFAF World Championship

The 2015 IFAF World Championship was the fifth instance of the IFAF World Championship, an international American football tournament. The United States hosted the tournament. Seven teams had confirmed their participation for the tournament in Canton, Ohio.The tournament was to be hosted by Stockholm, Sweden with all games to be taken place at the new Tele2 Arena, but on 19 December 2014, the local organizing committee for the Stockholm 2015 VM Amerikansk fotboll announced that it could not raise the sponsor structure to run the event and thus had to cancel. USA Football then stepped in and announced the Championships would be held at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton. Several days later both the German and Austrian teams announced they would not be able to attend the 2015 Championships citing the increased financial costs of travelling to the United States and also questioning the choice of Canton for hosting it due to the lack of facilities for a large number of teams.The United States won their third consecutive championship in their third appearance, defeating Japan in the final. The Gold Medal Game international broadcast was carried on Sports Radio America.

Benson Tower (New Orleans)

Benson Tower (formerly Dominion Tower and the CNG Tower), located at 1450 Poydras Street in the Central Business District of New Orleans, Louisiana, is a 26-story, 406 feet (124 m)-tall skyscraper. The building was purchased by late New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson on September 15, 2009 and renamed the Benson Tower. In 2012, Ochsner Health System moved executives and as many as 750 administrative employees to the top four floors as well as the 2nd and 3rd floor space with balconies overlooking Champions Square and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome; second floor space is utilized for Benson's television station, Fox affiliate WVUE (Channel 8) for the station's morning newscast, sporting events and by lease for other parties. According to Corporate Realty, which leases the 487,760-square foot building, as of August 2012, Benson Tower is more than 97.6% leased.

France national American football team

The France national American football team is the official American football senior national team of France.

It is controlled by the Fédération Française de Football Américain (FFFA) and competed for the first time in the American Football World Cup (IFAF World Cup) in 2003.

They get their players from teams of Ligue Élite de Football Américain.

Gayle Benson

Gayle Marie LaJaunie Bird Benson (born January 26, 1947) is an American billionaire, businesswoman, philanthropist, and sports franchise owner.

Following the death of her husband, Tom Benson, she became principal owner of the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League (NFL) and the New Orleans Pelicans of the National Basketball Association (NBA)As heir to the Saints and Pelicans, Benson became the first woman to be the majority shareholder of the voting stock in a NFL and NBA franchise. On December 27, 2014, Tom Benson wrote an e-mail to his daughter and two grandchildren stating he wanted "no further contact with any of you." Gayle Benson, at the time his wife of ten years, was named his heir. After lawsuits were filed in both federal and state courts, Tom Benson was determined to be mentally competent and was allowed to change his estate and leave his third wife, Gayle Benson, ownership of the New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans. Benson's daughter, Renee Benson, and his grandchildren, Rita Benson LeBlanc and Ryan Benson LeBlanc filed lawsuits challenging Tom Benson's decision to name Gayle heir to the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans. The lawsuit and media portrayed Gayle as a "gold digger."

Gayle and Tom Benson Stadium

Gayle and Tom Benson Stadium is a stadium in San Antonio, Texas. It is the home field for the men's and women's soccer, track and field, and American football teams of the University of the Incarnate Word. The stadium currently seats 6,000 people. It is named after Tom Benson and his wife Gayle. Record stadium attendance of 6,498 was recorded in a game vs Houston Baptist on November 17, 2016.

Incarnate Word Cardinals football

The Incarnate Word Cardinals football program is the intercollegiate American football team for the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) located in San Antonio, Texas. The program began in 2009 and originally competed in NCAA Division II as members of the Lone Star Conference. In 2013, the school moved to Division I. For the 2013 season, UIW competed as a member of the Southland Conference for all sports except football. Football competed with an 11-game schedule as an Independent. UIW began playing Southland football in the 2014 season. The team plays its home games at the 6,000 seat Gayle and Tom Benson Stadium.

List of current National Football League stadiums

This article is a list of current National Football League stadiums, sorted by capacity, their locations, their first year of usage, and home teams. Although the National Football League (NFL) has 32 teams, there are only 31 full-time NFL stadiums because the New York Giants and New York Jets share MetLife Stadium. This number is scheduled to decrease to 30 when the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers will begin to share Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park in 2020.

The newest full-time NFL stadium is Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, home of the Atlanta Falcons, which opened for the 2017 season. Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, temporary home of the Los Angeles Rams, is the oldest, having opened in 1923.

The NFL uses several other stadiums on a regular basis in addition to the teams' designated regular home sites. In England, two London venues—Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and Wembley Stadium—are contracted to host a combined four games per season, as part of the NFL International Series which runs through 2020. The former is the newest stadium that hosts NFL games, having opened in April 2019. Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, Mexico, will also host a NFL International Series game in 2019. In addition, Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, is the location of the annual exhibition Pro Football Hall of Fame Game. Since 2016, Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida has hosted the Pro Bowl.

The majority of current NFL stadiums have sold naming rights to corporations. As of the 2018 season, Arrowhead Stadium, Lambeau Field, Paul Brown Stadium, and Soldier Field have never sold naming rights, while Broncos Stadium at Mile High have previously sold naming rights. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum—a temporary NFL venue—has sold their naming rights in a deal that will officially change the stadium's name in August 2019.

Mickey Loomis

Mickey Loomis is the executive vice president and General Manager of the NFL's New Orleans Saints. He was named NFL executive of the year for 2006. Since June 2012, he is also head of basketball operations for the New Orleans Pelicans of the National Basketball Association.Loomis grew up in Eugene, Oregon and graduated from Willamette High School in 1974, then attended Northwest Christian University in Eugene, where he played basketball. He earned his degree in accounting from the University of Oregon and a master's degree in sports administration from Wichita State University. Before coming to the Saints, Loomis spent 15 years in the Seattle Seahawks organization. Loomis joined the Saints in 2000 and became general manager in 2002. He was with the Saints when they were forced to relocate to Baton Rouge in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and helped rebuild the team afterward, culminating in its victory in Super Bowl XLIV.Loomis was one of the Saints officials to be penalized in 2012 in the aftermath of the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, in which an NFL investigation found that players were paid bonuses from a pool for their on-field performance, including, allegedly, deliberately trying to knock opposing players out of games. A league investigation found that Saints team owner Tom Benson had ordered Loomis to shut the program down, but Loomis failed to do so. As a result, Loomis was suspended for the first 8 games of the 2012 NFL season.

In April 2012, ESPN's Outside the Lines reported allegations that Loomis had an illegal eavesdropping device that allowed him to listen to real-time playcalls of opposing coaches during the 2002-2004 seasons. Loomis denied the allegation, calling the report "absolutely false", and in August 2012, the Louisiana State Police announced that a four-month investigation had found no evidence to corroborate the allegations.In June 2012, Loomis was named head of basketball operations for the Hornets after Tom Benson bought the team. In this capacity, Loomis is responsible for overseeing interim Pelicans general manager Danny Ferry.

New Orleans Pelicans

The New Orleans Pelicans are an American professional basketball team based in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Pelicans compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member club of the league's Western Conference Southwest Division. The team plays their home games in the Smoothie King Center.

The Pelicans were established as the New Orleans Hornets in the 2002–03 season when then-owner of the Charlotte Hornets, George Shinn, relocated the franchise to New Orleans. Due to the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the franchise temporarily relocated to Oklahoma City, where they spent two seasons officially known as the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. The team returned to New Orleans full-time for the 2007–08 season. On January 24, 2013, the franchise announced it would rename itself the Pelicans, effective after the conclusion of the 2012–13 season. The Charlotte Hornets' name, history, and records from 1988 to 2002 were returned to its original city to be used by the then–Charlotte Bobcats franchise, which subsequently became the Charlotte Hornets, starting May 20, 2014.In 16 seasons of play since the original franchise relocated from North Carolina, the Louisiana franchise has achieved an overall regular season record of 610–686, and has qualified for the playoffs seven times. Their achievements include two playoff series victories and one division title.

New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints are a professional American football team based in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints currently compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member of the league's National Football Conference (NFC) South division. The team was founded by John W. Mecom Jr., David Dixon, and the city of New Orleans on November 1, 1966. The Saints began play in Tulane Stadium in 1967.

The name "Saints" is an allusion to November 1 being All Saints Day in the Catholic faith. New Orleans has a large Catholic population, and the spiritual "When the Saints Go Marching In" is strongly associated with New Orleans and is often sung by fans at games. The franchise was founded on November 1, 1966.The team's primary colors are old gold and black; their logo is a simplified fleur-de-lis. They played their home games in Tulane Stadium through the 1974 NFL season. The following year, they moved to the new Louisiana Superdome (now the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, since Mercedes-Benz has purchased the stadium's naming rights).For most of their first 20 years, the Saints were barely competitive, only getting to .500 twice. In 1987, they finished 12–3—their first-ever winning season—and qualified for the NFL playoffs for the first time in franchise history, but lost to the Minnesota Vikings 44–10. The next season in 1988 ended with a 10–6 record, but no playoff berth. Following the 2000 regular season, the Saints defeated the defending Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams 31–28 to notch their first-ever playoff win.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast region. The Superdome was used as an emergency, temporary shelter for displaced residents. The stadium suffered damage from the hurricane (notably from flooding and part of the roof being torn off as well as internal damage from lack of available facilities). The Saints were forced to play their first scheduled home game against the New York Giants at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey (the Giants' home stadium); other home games were rescheduled at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas or Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. During the season, it was rumored that Saints' owner Tom Benson might deem the Superdome unusable and seek to legally void his contract and relocate the team to San Antonio, where he had business interests. Ultimately, however, the Superdome was repaired and renovated in time for the 2006 season at an estimated cost of US$185 million. The New Orleans Saints' first post-Katrina home game was an emotionally charged Monday Night Football game versus their division rival, the Atlanta Falcons. The Saints, under rookie head coach Sean Payton and new quarterback Drew Brees, defeated the Falcons 23–3, and went on to notch the second playoff win in franchise history.

The 2009 season was a historic one for the Saints. Winning a franchise-record 13 games, they qualified for Super Bowl XLIV and defeated the AFC champion Indianapolis Colts 31–17. To date, it is the only Super Bowl championship that they have won, and as it is the only Super Bowl the Saints have appeared in, they join the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the only three NFL teams to win their lone Super Bowl appearance.

In 52 seasons (through 2018), the Saints' record was 371–446–5 (.454) overall, 362–435–5 in the regular season and 9–11 in the playoffs.

New Orleans VooDoo

The New Orleans VooDoo were a professional arena football team based in New Orleans, Louisiana. The VooDoo were a member of the East Division of the American Conference of the Arena Football League (AFL). They played their home games in Smoothie King Center. The VooDoo were unrelated to an earlier AFL team, the New Orleans Night, who had competed in the 1991 and 1992 AFL seasons in the Louisiana Superdome.

The original New Orleans VooDoo played in the AFL from 2004 to 2008, at which point the league suspended operations. During that time they were owned in part by Tom Benson, who also owned the National Football League's New Orleans Saints. At the completion of the 2008 season, VooDoo owner Tom Benson announced the disbanding of the VooDoo. This led to the termination of operations for the AFL and ultimate filing by the League of Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. The minor league affiliate of the AFL, af2, continued play through the 2009 season.

In the Fall of 2009, several af2 owners, Paul Ross of the Tulsa Talons, Dan Newman of the Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings, and Brady Nelson of the Spokane Shock, spearheaded in conjunction with Brett Bouchy, former owner of the AFL's Arizona Rattlers and Orlando Predators, a move to purchase the assets of the AFL out of Bankruptcy. This successful transaction resulted in the reformation of the AFL for the 2010 season. Prior to the 2010 season, the af2 league terminated operations. Several af2 teams chose to move into the AFL, including the Talons, BattleWings, Iowa Barnstormers, Spokane Shock, Tennessee Valley Vipers, and Boise Burn. Prior to the 2011 AFL season, several AFL teams relocated: The Talons moved from Tulsa to San Antonio; the Vipers moved from Huntsville, Alabama to Atlanta, Georgia, and reactivated the Georgia Force; the BattleWings left Bossier City for New Orleans and reactivated the New Orleans VooDoo. Legendary AFL player/coach Derek Stingley coached the VooDoo for the 2011 season and was replaced in 2012 by longtime AFL quarterback and coach Pat O'Hara. In 2015, the VooDoo's final season, Dean Cokinos was the head coach. At the completion of the 2015 season, the New Orleans VooDoo ceased operations.

The VooDoo's official mascots were known as Bones and Mojo. Their cheerleaders were known as the VooDoo Dolls.

Pro Football Hall of Fame Game

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Game is an annual National Football League (NFL) exhibition game that is held the weekend of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's induction ceremonies. The game is played at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, which is located adjacent to the Hall of Fame building in Canton, Ohio. It is traditionally the first game played in the NFL preseason for any given year, marking the end of the NFL's six-month off-season.

Thomas Benson (American football)

Thomas Benson (born June 9, 1961) is a former American football linebacker in the National Football League. He played college football at the University of Oklahoma. He played nine seasons in the NFL for four teams.

Tom Benson (disambiguation)

Tom Benson is the owner of the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans.

Thomas or Tom Benson may also refer to:

Thomas Benson (American football) (born 1961), former American football linebacker

Tom Benson (politician) (1929–2000), Unionist politician in Northern Ireland

Thomas Benson (1708–1772), British ship-owner, merchant and politician

Thomas Duckworth Benson (1857–1926), British socialist politician

Tom Benson, a character in 7th Cavalry

Tom Benson (politician)

Tom Benson (26 August 1929 – 24 December 2000) was a Unionist politician in Northern Ireland.

Born in Enniskillen, Benson was an officer in the Royal Ulster Constabulary. He joined the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and was elected to Ards Borough Council, serving as Mayor of Ards from 1987–88. During this year, he defied a ban on UUP representatives meeting Government ministers and met the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Tom King.In 1996, Benson was elected to the Northern Ireland Forum representing Strangford, and he held his seat at the 1998 Northern Ireland Assembly election. He fell ill in November 2000 and died the following month. He was the first member of the Assembly to die, and was replaced by Thomas Hamilton, his hand-picked successor.

Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium

Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium (formerly Fawcett Stadium) is a football stadium and entertainment complex in Canton, Ohio. It is located adjacent to the grounds of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and is a major component of Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village. The venue hosts the annual Hall of Fame Game, along with various high school and college football games. Dedicated in 1938, the stadium's original name honored the memory of John A. Fawcett, a former Canton board of education member, who died several years before the stadium was completed.

On November 24, 2014, it was announced that Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints, would be donating $11 million to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, $10 million of which was to go into renovating Fawcett Stadium. In response to Benson's donation, the Hall of Fame announced that Fawcett Stadium would be renamed Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, which was dedicated on August 3, 2017. Benson died less than a year later, on March 15, 2018.

Fawcett Stadium served as the home for Canton McKinley High School, Malone University, and Walsh University, in addition to several other high schools.

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