Sports made Benson a billionaire


Tom Benson, the owner of the New Orleans Saints who died Thursday at age 90, is being praised for many things by the National Football League and others. For all his good works, the one thing he clearly knew how to do better than anything else was handle money.

Benson originally made his mark by owning automobile dealerships and banks. But he made a true fortune with sports franchises. His success illustrates the ridiculously high values that these franchises command today.

In 1985, Benson bought the Saints for $70 million. In just 33 years, the franchise is now valued at $2 billion — which is a return of more than

28 times the original price.

It was the same story with the New Orleans Pelicans, the NBA team Benson bought six years ago. In that relatively short period, the franchise’s value tripled.