Gayle Benson insists she will not sell the New Orleans Pelicans to allow for a relocation.
Like the New Orleans Saints, there is a succession plan to sell the Pelicans after her death with the proceeds going to charities that will benefit the city.
The Pelicans sell out most games, but the no-show rate is much higher than that of the Saints, as high as 25% to 45% for some games. The Pelicans also bring in about $100 million per year less in local television broadcast rights than its large-market peers.
The Pelicans still make money due to revenue sharing plans and the NBA's national television deals with ESPN and Turner.
The Pelicans' lease expires in 24-25, which has ruled speculation of a relocation. The Pelicans have explored renovating the Smoothie King Center or building a new facility.
A June report in The Athletic from former NBA executive John Hollinger cited league sources that identified the Pelicans as “the most likely team to seek relocation in the coming decade.”
Lauscha had a blunt response to talk of moving the team.
“There’s absolutely no way — not on my watch, not on Mrs. Benson’s watch,” said Dennis Lauscha, who is president of the Pelicans and Saints. “I was born and raised in New Orleans. It tore my heart out when the Jazz left. The last thing I want is for either of these teams to leave New Orleans. It’s not going to happen.”
Lauscha said he takes calls monthly from interested buyers and has turned down offers of over $1 billion.
“There is no way, as long as I’m going to be alive, that I would sell the Pelicans,” Gayle Benson added.
Tom Benson bought the Pelicans from the NBA for $338 million and the current valuation is $135 billion.