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Tom Benson To Own New Orleans Hornets

The group headed by New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson will be confirmed by the NBA to purchase the New Orleans Hornets on Friday.

The Saints via Twitter confirmed the news that broke earlier in the day. A source close to the situation first told sportsNOLA.com early Friday morning that Benson would take over the NBA franchise.

Benson is in New York where he concluded talks with NBA Commissioner David Stern leading into Friday's league Board of Governors meeting at the St. Regis Hotel. At that meeting, the board voted to confirm the purchase by Benson, who recently emerged as the preferred option for Stern.

Benson and Stern held a press conference after the vote (see video here).

The choice of a local majority owner best fits both sides, notes the same source. The 85-year old Benson first became interested in buying the Hornets at the urging of Stern due to the desire of both men to make sure the franchise is firmly entrenched in the Crescent City long term.

The other finalist, a group headed by California swimwear manufacturer Raj Bhathal, reportedly met with Stern in New York this past Monday. That group also included former Hornets minority owner Gary Chouest and ex-NBA player, coach and executive Mike Dunleavy Sr.

Chouest, who had to give up his stake in the club when the NBA bought the team from former majority owner George Shinn, initially sought to become majority owner of the team before later deciding to fold into Bhathal's group as a minority interest.

According to David Aldridge of TNT and NBA.com, the purchase price for the Hornets will be $338 million. Aldridge says the deal in essence has been done since Monday.

For more on this developing story, stay tuned to sportsNOLA.com.