Saints will honor its greats multiple times this season

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Saints and Pelicans owner Gayle Benson said Tuesday a number of efforts are in store for 2019 to honor many of the greats of the football franchise.

Speaking at the Greater New Orleans Quarterback Club at Rock ‘n’ Bowl, Mrs. Benson said that in addition to a 10th anniversary celebration of the Super Bowl XLIV champions, the team will announce soon a new addition to the Ring of Honor at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and will award all members of the Saints Hall of Fame with special jackets.

“This effort has been very well received by our former players,” she said.

A renovation of the Dome is on the horizon, Mrs. Benson confirmed.

“We are excited to begin a multi-year renovation of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome that will provide a safe, comfortable and seamless experience for our fans,” she said. “The renovations will include an extension of our lease that will ensure the Saints remain in New Orleans for years to come.”

Added SMG’s Doug Thornton, who also spoke on Tuesday’s panel, “If we are going to do a renovation, we want it to be a game-changer.”

The renovation will begin after this football season and will occur in four phases, Thornton said. “By the Super Bowl in 2024, we’ll have a completely renovated building,” he said.

The Saints regular season opens Monday night, Sept. 9 against the Houston Texans.

“I certainly share in our fans’ optimism for the upcoming season,” Mrs. Benson said. “We have had some heartbreaking ends. It has strengthened our resolve … because of what we have been through.

“We have a quote in our facility from my late husband that says, ‘The best thing we can do for New Orleans is to win.’ I could not agree more.”

The start of the Pelicans regular season is less than two months away.

“I believe that in David Griffin, we found a leader who more than checked all of (the) boxes,” Mrs. Benson said. “Immediately transformed the perception of our franchise in the NBA.

“We now have an exceptionally talented young roster that has the ability to grow into a consistent contender. As we grow, I think our fans will be immediately rewarded.”

Mrs. Benson said the Pelicans are on pace to set a record for season tickets sold and officials expect many games to be sold out before the regular season begins.

When fans come into the Smoothie King Center this winter, the experience will be even better.

“Our staff is working on re-imagining the entire Pelicans game presentation,” she said, “and are working with groups like Disney to innovate the way fans experience the game.

“We can promise our fans will have an exceptional and memorable experience every time they visit the Smoothie King Center.”

Mrs. Benson said the franchise is studying improvements to the arena and surrounding areas.

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Lenny Vangilder

Lenny Vangilder

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Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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