Saints, Pelicans owner Benson donates $1M after Hurricane Ida
New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Gayle Benson announced an initial $1 million donation to the Gulf Coast Renewal Fund to aid the recovery after Hurricane Ida's devastation, the teams announced Monday.
Players and staff from both organizations are safe and accounted for after the Category 4 hurricane made landfall in Louisiana on Sunday, causing a significant disturbance to the region's electricity and resulting in multiple deaths.
"We know there is much work to be done to restore power and other infrastructure," Benson said in a statement. "We have been in touch with government leaders at every level to offer any assistance we can, including the use of any of our facilities - all of which have sustained only superficial damage."
If the city's infrastructure allows, the Caesars Superdome will be operational for the Saints' season-opening game versus the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 12, according to the team.
Meanwhile, the NBA's 2021-22 campaign is well over a month away. The Pelicans' first preseason tilt at the Smoothie King Center isn't scheduled until Oct. 6, and the club said the facility sustained just minor exterior damage and will be ready. The team's regular-season home opener against the Philadelphia 76ers is slated for Oct. 20.
In the interim, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has accepted the teams' invitation to use parts of their shared Ochsner Sports Performance Center to aid the relief efforts.
Benson hopes her franchise's on-field and on-court success can buoy the spirits of those in the storm-stricken region.
"We greatly look forward to representing our city, state, and region this season as we work together to restore our community," she said. "We know how much winning games can unite and inspire people in our region and we can’t wait to take advantage of that responsibility and opportunity."