New Orleans Saints and Pelicans executive vice president and general manager Mickey Loomis issued a statement Thursday morning in support of Tom Benson’s new ownership succession plan, which leaves Gayle Benson, and not granddaughter Rita Benson LeBlanc, as owner of the sports franchises in the event of his passing.
“Our football and basketball operations could not ask for a better owner in Mr. Benson. We have nothing but his unequivocal support and that is important,” Loomis said. “We have been a successful franchise because of it. Nothing will change with that when Mrs. Benson becomes the owner. That stability creates an environment so that players and coaches want to come here.”
It was confirmed to The Advocate Wednesday evening that Benson was leaving the sports franchises in control of his wife, Gayle Benson, 67, instead of Benson LeBlanc, who once appeared to be the heir apparent.
But the change runs deeper. A source close to the situation told The Advocate that LeBlanc is no longer associated with the franchises in any capacity. 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.
The Saints and Pelicans will remain under the same executive management struture, with Dennis Lauscha serving as president and Loomis as the executive vice president and general manager of the teams. The senior level management will also remain in place with Greg Bensel (senior vice president of communications/broadcasting), Jean-Paul Dardenne (senior vice president of corporate partnerships), Ben Hales (senior vice president of marketing and business development), Ed Lang (senior vice president/CFO), Vicky Neumeyer (senior vice president/general counsel) and Mike Stanfield (senior vice president of sales).
In a statement issued by the Saints, Tom Benson said he believes the change will set up the franchises for longterm prosperity in New Orleans.
“Continuity is very important and this plan ensures that,” said Benson. “We have had the same management team in place that oversees both teams for a number of years. It has proven to be successful and it works. Dennis and Mickey will continue to run the operations as they have done day-to-day for the last 10 years or so. They consult with me daily, but they will continue to have the same authority they have always had with making decisions, large and small and this will continue even when Gayle becomes owner.”
Benson, 87, believes this plan will help his teams achieve that continuity.
“This is a good structure,” he said. “The only difference is that my wife, Gayle, will be in control of the Saints and Pelicans when I die, which I can assure you will not be anytime soon.”