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Louisana government to help Saints
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Old 30 May 2005, 01:11 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Louisana government to help Saints

Monday, May 30, 2005
Gov. Blanco to propose bills to generate $12M
By Len Pasquarelli
ESPN.com

Facing a shortfall for a second consecutive year, and determined to not provide New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson with any more ammunition, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco will this week ratchet up attempts to push through two new bills that would create revenues to help fund the state's commitments to the NFL franchise.

Under terms of a 10-year, $186 million agreement struck in 2001 between Benson and then-Gov. Mike Foster, the state owes the Saints a $15 million payment by July 5. The current budget for the Superdome Commission, which essentially serves as the conduit for the payments to the team, indicates a $10 million shortfall.

Last year, the commission was $7.1 million shy, and state legislators were forced to pass a last-minute bill that permitted it to borrow up to $7.5 million from the Department of Economic Development. The shortfall in 2006 is projected to be as much as $13 million and, if there is no long-term solution, the problem might continue to escalate, given that the subsidies increase to $23.5 million in 2009-2010.

Failure to make full payment to the Saints would place the state in default and provide Benson a convenient escape should he decide to relocate the franchise. Even if the state makes the payment, the Saints have a 90-day option after the 2005 season to leave the city, provided the club repays the $81 million in subsidies it will have received to that point, under the 2001 agreement.

Two weeks ago, Benson's attorney and longtime friend, Stanley Rosenberg, suggested the team might relocate to San Antonio. But even Benson, at a league owners meeting in Washington, D.C., last week, dismissed that notion. Benson said he has no intention of moving the club, but hinted broadly he will explore all options, and reiterated that he will not re-open discussions with Blanco and the state until after the 2005 season.

He agreed that, by waiting until next February, the Saints could enhance their leverage, particularly if the team has a successful 2005 campaign.

"You always want to deal," noted Benson, "from a position of strength."

Later in the week, Benson turned up the rhetoric a bit by noting that the community will ultimately determine the fate of the franchise, and that the people would have to decide if New Orleans is "an NFL city." Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said last week that he will attempt to jump-start the discussions by speaking with Benson and phoning Blanco, but it appears his efforts will not budge the two sides.

In what is perceived by some as public backlash against the not-so-veiled threats that the Saints could depart, fans have purchased only 26,000 season tickets for 2005.

"Oh, we've talked a lot about our situation," Benson said last week, when asked if his fellow owners are sensitive to his dicey situation. "The league is very aware of the things that are going on. And people seem to understand that we can't keep going with things the way they are right now. There are a lot of things to consider."

The new revenues for which Blanco will push this week would increase the taxes on New Orleans hotels, rental cars and football tickets. The bills would create about $12 million in projected new revenues, drawn principally from Saints fans and from the tourism trade in Orleans and Jefferson parishes. The bills are scheduled for a Wednesday committee hearing in the state house.

When originally proposed, Blanco had hoped to use the taxes to support a long-term deal between the state and the Saints, one that would have included a Superdome renovation. But with Benson adamant that he will not negotiate until after the season, the revenues would have to be used to help fund the current subsidies due the team in just five weeks.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here Insider.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/column...len&id=2071914
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Old 30 May 2005, 01:36 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Humbug! I'll believe it when I see it pass.
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Old 30 May 2005, 02:19 PM   #3 (permalink)
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You livr in Louisana, are people scared that the Saints might leave?
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Old 30 May 2005, 02:36 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Yes, quite a few.
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Old 30 May 2005, 03:03 PM   #5 (permalink)
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We should have bills like that in every state. Nothing shows loyalty more than paying extra taxes just to make sure your team stays in existence.
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Old 30 May 2005, 04:16 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I really can't see the NFL allowing the Saints to move to L.A.
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Old 30 May 2005, 05:08 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Why is that?
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Old 30 May 2005, 05:40 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rebel
I really can't see the NFL allowing the Saints to move to L.A.
I have to disagree.

The way Tags creams himself thinking about a team in the Los Angeles market and how the media links every possible rumor of a move to LA, I am thinking the first chance for a move to LA, he's and the owners are gonna allow it.
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Old 30 May 2005, 05:45 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Well I really don't know what situation NO is in. I know they don't have alot of money and all, but just from reading different articles, it seems as like Tags wants an expansion team there.
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Old 30 May 2005, 08:33 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Why would any team move to L.A.? They have tried to put teams there, and every time it doesn't work.
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Old 30 May 2005, 08:35 PM   #11 (permalink)
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You're right. I also don't see why minor league baseball teams keep going to Birmingham, Alabama.
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Old 30 May 2005, 10:24 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spear
Why would any team move to L.A.? They have tried to put teams there, and every time it doesn't work.
Los Angeles is a media and merchendising goldmine, that's why a team would consider LA.

The Rams for most of their history had great support in LA. Only when Georgia Frontiere took control of the team after her hubby got sent to the slammer did things go south.
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Old 30 May 2005, 11:02 PM   #13 (permalink)
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In my opinion, the LA Kings are the most successful United States expansion team in NHL history.
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