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Saints owner restructures ownership transfer, control

The New Orleans Saints announced Thursday morning that owner Tom Benson has restructured ownership transfer and control.

The 87-year-old owner reorganized succession of the NFL franchise -- along with the control of his local NBA team -- naming wife Gayle Benson as successor at the time of his death.

"This is something I have thought about and prayed about for a while now," Benson said in a release. "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."

Benson's granddaughter, Rita Benson LeBlanc had been the hand-picked successor prior to Thursday's announcement.

"This is a decision that I have decided was in the best interest for the long-term stability and success of our football and basketball teams. That is a lot to think about. And there are a lot of people and families impacted by decisions that need to be made and so I thought now was the right time. This is not something that came about overnight, but over time."

Benson still plans to represent the Saints at league and owners' meetings.

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