Photo gallery: Tom Benson honored with statue at Superdome

New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson was honored Tuesday with a statue of himself on the steps of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome overlooking Champions Square.

The statue, of Benson in a suit smiling and holding the Lombardi Trophy aloft, is to serve as a lasting reminder of his longtime commitment and contributions to New Orleans and Louisiana as a sports team owner, businessman and philanthropist.

The bronze statue was sculpted by artist Brian Hanlon, who also did the Steve Gleason statue and the Shaquille O'Neal statue at LSU.

It is approximately 17 feet tall and weighs 10,000 pounds, Hanlon said. The figure of Benson himself stands about 10 feet tall, Hanlon said.

After Gov. Bobby Jindal, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Saints coach Sean Payton and Hanlon spoke, the statue was unveiled by Payton and Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis.

Benson was visibly moved.

“That's real nice,” Benson, the Saints' owner since 1985, said, sobbing. “I never thought this would happen. I'm so pleased. Thank y'all very much.”