Morning Newsletter

Owner of NFL Saints agrees to buy Hornets from league

Tom Benson brought stability to the Saints nearly three decades ago and now plans to do the same for the Hornets in small-market New Orleans.

The Saints' owner agreed Friday to purchase the Hornets from the NBA.

"We expect this club to be one of the most outstanding clubs in the league, otherwise I don't want to get involved," Benson said. "This is just a good thing and I'm just glad to be a part of it."

A person familiar with the deal says the purchase price is $338 million. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the financial terms have not been announced.

The NBA has been trying to sell the Hornets since buying the club from founder George Shinn in 2010. While preparing the team for sale the league negotiated a new lease for the Hornets to remain in the state-owned New Orleans Arena through 2024.

The sale of the team to Benson has to be approved by the NBA's Board of Governors, which was meeting in New York on Friday.

The framework of ownership negotiations were handled in a way that a new Hornets owner would have to accept the lease worked out between the NBA and Gov. Bobby Jindal. The lease agreement also called for $50 million in improvements to the basketball stadium, which sits right across the street from the Superdome.

The 84-year-old Benson, a New Orleans native, has owned the Saints since 1985, when he stepped in to block efforts by other prospective investors to move the NFL franchise to Jacksonville, Fla. Now Benson has made another major investment to stabilize the NBA's presence in the Big Easy on the same day that the Hornets were hosting the Utah Jazz, the very team New Orleans lost to relocation in 1979.

Benson helped bring the Saints their first playoff appearance in 1987 and finally a Super Bowl title in 2010.

Sacramento arena deal falters

The Kings' future in Sacramento is uncertain again. A tentative deal for a new arena has fallen apart, leaving open the possibility the team's owners could again try to move from California's capital.

"Is the deal dead? As we know it, absolutely," Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said Friday.

The Maloof family has balked at terms of the agreement reached last month, and though they say they want to remain in Sacramento, Johnson isn't so sure after meeting with them Friday and hearing their list of concerns he said hadn't previously been disclosed. "It just feels like they were coming up with reasons of why not to do the deal," Johnson said.

Friday's highlights

Pacers 102, Cavaliers 83: Danny Granger scored 18 points to help host Indiana clinch a playoff berth. Indiana (37-22) matched its win total from last season. The Pacers are in third place in the Eastern Conference standings.

Hawks 109, Magic 81: Jannero Pargo hit five three-pointers and scored 17 points, and Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Marvin Williams each had 16 as visiting Atlanta earned its third straight win over Orlando and now has won six consecutive regular-season meetings over their division mates. Orlando lost its second straight and fell to 1-4 without center Dwight Howard, who sat for the fifth time in seven games. He has been diagnosed with a herniated disk in his back.

  Comments