In a story that could almost literally be ripped from a day-time soap opera plot, the family of New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans owner Tom Benson has filed suit indicating that he’s incompetent as owner of the two professional sports franchises.
It’s a rather long story, so we will refer to Nola.com for some of the in-depth information here.
Apparently, Benson recently announced plans to transfer future ownership of the franchises to his wife of 10 years, Gayle, which essentially cut off his daughter Renee LeBlanc, and his two grandchildren, Ryan LeBlanc and Rita Benson LeBlanc, the latter of whom was designated to be the “heir apparent.”
The suit, which was filed in Orleans Parish Civil District Court on Thursday, has several claims embedded in it. Among the numerous accusations, it indicates that Benson is both mentally and physically unfit to manage his personal or business affairs.
Earlier on Thursday, it was reported that Benson had pulled his granddaughter, Rita Benson LeBlanc, from her position of the Saints vice chairperson of the board.
In announcing that Rita Benson LeBlanc had been removed, the Saints official website quoted Benson in saying the following…
This is something I have thought about and prayed about for a while now,” said Benson in a statement. “Over the past 60 years, I have been fortunate enough to build a number of successful businesses not only in New Orleans but also in San Antonio.
Throughout those years, I have included my family as well as a strong management team around me to run these businesses, whether they be banks, automobile dealerships, television stations or professional sports franchises. I want to continue this model of proven success. This is about the legacy of these two teams and everything we have done for the good of the city of New Orleans and our region –my primary goal is to give the organization the foundation to live on after me for many, many years.
For years now, Rita Benson LeBlanc has been groomed to take over for her grandfather when he passes away. That responsibility now sits with Benson’s wife of 10 years, Gayle.
Benson, 87, has owned the Saints since 1985 and purchased the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans (then the Hornets) in 2012. According to Forbes, he’s said to have a net worth of over $1.6 billion.