The latest addition to Champions Square is a bronze statue of the owner of the Saints and Pelicans, hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
Tom Benson joined by wife Gayle Tuesday for the unveiling of the statue, sculpted by the same artist who made the Steve Gleason statue at the Superdome and the Shaquille O'Neal statue on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge.
"Boy, that's real nice!" said an emotional Benson after the statue was revealed. "I never did think this would happen...so pleased, thank y'all very much!"
Saints coach Sean Payton said, "The opportunity that we all had...to hold that Lombardi Trophy, that doesn't exist without your leadership."
Benson also heard plenty of accolades at the event from local and state leaders.
"He truly is the best that Louisiana has to offer," said Gov. Bobby Jindal. "Not only is he a great friend, he's a great citizen of New Orleans, he's a great citizen of our great state and he makes Louisiana a great place."
Many of the speakers talked about how the Saints lifted spirits in the New Orleans area after Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Oil Spill.
"It really comes down to decisions that you made, and Gayle, you made, to plant your flag in this city," said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "That you were never going to leave and you were going to help us believe in ourselves again. And for that, I want to tell you that we are forever grateful and God bless you."
A press release from the Saints and Pelicans Tuesday afternoon also had reaction from the leaders of the leagues of Benson's two sports teams.
"This is a richly deserved tribute to a larger-than-life icon of the greater New Orleans community,” said National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell. “Tom Benson's legacy is now permanently and visibly recognized in his hometown. We are thrilled for Tom, Gayle and the Benson family."
"Long before becoming the owner of the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012, Tom Benson had proven himself to be a giant in the New Orleans community, working tirelessly to support the people of the Gulf South and Greater New Orleans," said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. "With over three decades of advocacy for projects ranging from cancer research to education, Tom is one of a kind, and it’s only fitting that he should forever loom large over Champions Square."
Photo: New Orleans Saints