New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson died Thursday, about a month after he was first hospitalized with flu. He was 90.
Benson died at Ochsner Medical Center in Jefferson, La., with his wife, Gayle, at his side, the Saints said in a news release. Benson was first hospitalized on Feb. 16.
Benson, who parlayed his beginnings as a car salesman into an auto dealership empire, purchased the Saints in 1985 for $70 million and the franchise made the playoffs for the first time two years later.
he Saints won the their only NFL championship, a victory against the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans native Peyton Manning, at Super Bowl XLIV in February 2010. The franchise made two NFC title game appearances, earned three division championships and 10 playoff berths under the billionaire’s tenure as owner.
In 2012, Benson bought the New Orleans Hornets from the NBA for $338 million. The team, which had moved to New Orleans from Charlotte in 2002, was in flux after the league bought it from George Shinn in 2010.
At the time of the purchase, Benson said that he would seek to change the name to something that better fit the city. He chose to call the team the Pelicans, which had been the name of the minor league baseball team in the city from the late 1800s until 1959. Benson had bought the rights to the name in the late 1980s.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) March 15, 2018