Tom Benson, Saints owner, dies at 90

March 15, 2018 GMT

New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson died Thursday, the NFL team announced.

Mr. Benson had been hospitalized with the flu at Ochsner Medical Center for about a month, but the team statement didn’t directly state the cause of death.

A New Orleans native, the banking and auto-dealing magnate purchased the franchise in 1985 “after learning that the NFL franchise was on the verge of being sold to parties interested in relocating the team,” the Saints said.

Prior to that point, the Saints were widely seen as the league’s worst team the “Aints,” with the levity-loving city’s fans taking to wearing bags over their heads in the early 1980s. Since Mr. Benson took over the team the Saints have won six division titles, made four other playoff appearances and won Super Bowl XLIV in 2009.

That victory led by franchise quarterback Drew Brees came just a few years after of Hurricane Katrina devastated the city, including the team’s Superdome stadium, and forced it to play an entire season on the road. Mr. Benson’s second home, San Antonio, hosted the Saints’ home games in its Alamodome.

In 2012, Mr. Benson purchased New Orleans other major-league team, the NBA’s Hornet, from the league and renamed them the Pelicans.

There were no immediate details on funeral arrangements, though the team’s statement implied there would at least be a public visitation.