Saints, Pelicans Owner Tom Benson
via Cpl. Michael V. Walters / Marine Corps / Public Domain

Tom Benson — the owner of New Orleans sports franchises, the Saints and Pelicans — died Thursday (March 15). He was 90 years old.

As noted by ESPN, Benson — who is one of three owners of both an NFL and NBA franchise — is widely credited with keeping both teams in his native New Orleans. He purchased the Saints in 1985, and later, the former New Orleans Hornets in 2012.

Benson had been hospitalized in New Orleans since Feb. 16 with flu-like symptoms.

“Tom Benson’s contributions to New Orleans and the National Football League were legendary,” commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “He purchased a team that had never had a winning season; by the third year of his ownership, the Saints were in the playoffs. Tom kept the Saints together through the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, and his decision to bring the team back to New Orleans gave the entire region hope and confidence that they would recover. The Saints rewarded their fans with tremendous football and a Super Bowl championship.”

“Within the NFL, he was a true leader among NFL owners. … I know that the entire NFL family joins me in extending our most heartfelt condolences to Gayle Benson and the entire Saints organization.”