The NBA franchise present arena lease ends in 2024.
It has been very quiet in New Orleans as little news has leaked in the negotiations between Gayle Benson’s National Basketball Association’s Pelicans’ organization talks with Louisiana state officials about the possibility of the state building a new arena to house Benson’s business. Benson’s business is in the final two years of a lease which allows the business to operate in the state-owned New Orleans arena. The deal is done on June 30th, 2024 but Benson’s business can exercise a five-year option to continue using the building through 2029. Benson and her management team are looking at ways to get more money out of the New Orleans arena but there is a problem. The 23-year-old arena has a small physical structure which means renovations to keep it a state-of-the-art facility may be difficult. That is why both Pelicans ownership and the state are looking for a new arena.
The New Orleans arena situation and possibly the Memphis arena situation could be forcing the NBA to move slowly on expanding the league to 32 franchises from the present 30. Leagues like to settle a stadium or an arena situation in a home market before adding teams. New Orleans cannot compete financially with New York or Los Angeles because of market size. New Orleans is a small market with limited television and corporate dollars. That means whatever deal is done will require a lot of public money. There is also another element. Benson owns the National Football League’s New Orleans Saints franchise. Benson has agreed to a deal with Louisiana officials that will keep the team in town through 2035 and with various options, the deal could be extended through 2055. The Saints football stadium is getting a $450 million facelift. Can Louisiana keep throwing money into New Orleans sports facilities?
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