Gayle Benson outlines future succession plan to keep Saints, Pelicans in New Orleans

METAIRIE (La. METAIRIE, La. -- Gayle Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, and officials from the team revealed their long-term succession plans for the teams to The Times-Picayune/WVUE-TV on Wednesday. They said that the sale would have two goals: keeping the teams in New Orleans and giving the proceeds to charity.
This arrangement has been approved by NFL. It is similar to the sale of the Buffalo Bills to Terry and Kim Pegula in 2014.

Dennis Lauscha (Saints president) and Benson, 74-year-old Benson, would act as executors of her estate. They said that the proceeds would go to charities that serve the New Orleans community, including education, health care and arts and sciences, and humanitarian causes.

ESPN was informed by a Saints and Pelicans official that the plan had been confirmed.

Benson said, "I can't bring it with me," and she succeeded her husband Tom Benson in 2018. She has no heirs. "God gives gifts and this is one of them. This [organization] is my stewardship. We also help others with it. My goal is to spread all the goodness and gifts God and Tom have given to me and this community."

The report states that the decision to donate proceeds to local charities was made while Tom Benson was still the owner. Since Tom Benson revealed that he wanted to pass his franchises to Gayle in 2015, instead of his daughter and grandchildren, the question of long-term succession is a constant curiosity. The incident sparked a bitter legal dispute that lasted two years, which ended in a private settlement.

The reason that the succession plan is relevant today is because of long-term lease extension talks between the Saints and the state Louisiana.

Lauscha stated that a lease extension would keep the Saints in New Orleans for the long-term, even if the ownership changes. The NFL has a policy against teams breaking a lease agreement to move markets. Lauscha said that a favorable lease agreement would be more appealing to a future owner who wants to remain in New Orleans.

Benson said, "I want to ensure that we keep these teams here," "I want them all to remain in New Orleans for the rest of their lives."