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Doug Mouton / Northshore Bureau Chief
Email: dmouton@wwltv.com | Twitter: @dmoutonwwl

NEW ORLEANS -- Top New Orleans marketing experts call the Tom Benson deal to buy the Hornets 'great' for New Olreans.

'Tom Benson can now use both of the franchises as a tool to help market the other franchise,' Greg Buisson of Buisson Creative Strategies in Metairie said Friday. 'Other than the Seattle Seahawks and the Portland Trailblazers under Paul Allen, I don't think we've really seen that, but this is really a good opportunity for New Orleans.'

The biggest reason, according to Buisson, is that Tom Benson is a proven winner with the Saints, despite the fact that they're a small market franchise.

'The Saints have ignored market size,' Buisson said. 'That kind of thinking, taking that over to the NBA is only going to be better for this marketplace, and I think that's what he's doing to do.'

Since he bought the Saints and hired Jim Finks to be the team's General Manager, Tom Benson has consistently shown a willingness to pay top dollar for well respected executives, coaches and players.

'If he's willing to invest in a championship team in professional football,' Buisson argued, 'he should be willing to invest in a championship team on the court in the NBA. That can only be great for the New Orleans market.'

There are inherent differences in the two sports leagues which will make that more difficult in basketball than in football, according to Tulane Sports Law Professor Gabe Feldman. NFL owners operate on a much more even playing field, equally sharing revenues from television contracts and NFL Properties. In the NBA, a much higher percentage of a team's income is generated locally, through tickets sales and the local television contract. So while the Saints and the New York Giants operate on much the same playing field, the Hornets and the New York Knicks do not.

Since George Shinn gave up ownership of the Hornets in December of 2010, and the team was put under league control, NBA leaders have expresses numerous times their desire to keep the Hornets in New Orleans. Actively courting Tom Benson, according to Feldman, is proof they were telling the truth.

'I think it proves the NBA was genuine in their interest to keep the team here,' Feldman said Friday. 'I think David Stern could not be happier at this moment.'

Of the ownership possibilities, according to Feldman, Tom Benson was the one most likely to cement the team in New Orleans.

'Certainly it makes sense,' Feldman said. 'It makes sense for the city. It makes sense for the franchises and the fans to have the two franchises cooperating, working together, instead of competing with each other, particularly when their right next to each other. I think this helps the whole downtown area, and I think it helps the whole profile of professional sports in New Orleans.'

The dual ownership opens up great marketing possibilities, according to Greg Buisson. The Saints and Hornets can share and combine databases, and offer ticket packages that include both teams, and rebuild the Superdome/Arena complex under one shared banner.

'They'll be able to do things like create unique packaging opportunities between the two franchises, on everything from events that they hold to the games that they play,' Buisson said.

'And they'll be able to use some of the celebrity from both teams to be able to market and promote each other. It's a really good opportunity for them, and it's only going to strengthen the New Orleans sports market.'

Tom Benson has a proven track record, not only of success on the field, but success reaching the comsumer base. According to Buisson, Benson knows the market and how to sell it.

'I think this is a great move for the team, for the NBA, and certainly for the city,' Feldman added. 'I think it brings some much needed stability and credibility to the franchise.'

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