Pelicans Provide Tour of Practice Facility
Virtually from Day 1 of the then-Hornets’ move to New Orleans in 2002, many aspects of the franchise have had a temporary feel. Partly due to events beyond the franchise’s control – including the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina in 2005 – the club has often operated on a year-to-year basis. An 18-month period of limbo, when the team was owned by the NBA from 2010-12, also contributed to this unfortunate reality.
When New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson purchased the franchise in the summer of 2012, however, giant steps toward permanency immediately began. The latest leap in that direction is under way right now in Metairie, where the Pelicans’ brand-new practice facility is being constructed. The building is expected to be ready in August, prior to fall training camp.
On Wednesday, May 15, Benson, along with Pelicans three-year head coach Monty Williams, gave New Orleans media members a walking tour of the $16 million, 50,000-square foot practice facility. Upon its completion, the facility will be one of the largest in the NBA as well as one of its premier venues. In addition, its setup is unprecedented: the Pelicans will share the same 25-acre campus as the NFL’s Saints, the only such arrangement in major North American professional sports.
While donning Pelicans hard hats on Wednesday afternoon, Benson and Williams spoke extensively about the impact that the new facility will have on the franchise.
“It’s going to be a big difference,” Benson said. “We’re going to develop a fine basketball team, like our football team. From what I’ve seen, this is going to be the finest facility in the league. I don’t think anybody else has anything like this. This is second to none in the country.”
“It’s a monumental blessing,” said Williams, who walked inside the structure for the first time since construction began. “To see where we were just a year ago to now, it’s amazing to see how all of this has come together and what Mr. Benson has been able to do in a short period of time. I’m just really thankful for all of this, and where this is going to take our program. When you have a facility like this, couple with ownership, that’s going to be tremendous, to be able to tell (free agents) that there are no holes here. We have everything that all the players want – a facility where they can get better, a place where you can hang your hat permanently, a great city and a team that’s going to continue to get better every single year.”