Why would Benson and Blanco resume talks sooner than expected? Plus, L.A. mayor applies pressure
The negotiations, first shrugged off by Benson until after the 2005 season, now are possibly targeted to happen in the next two months.
The same official noted that both sides wanted to reach a deal very soon, though no comment has been made by the Saints.
The more optimistic view is, "Good. It looks like this deal will get done and my Saints will stay in New Orleans. I think both sides really want to keep the team there, and they are both finally coming to their senses that they don't want this to play out throughout what could be a very strong 2005 season."
The more pessimistic (and realistic, if you read further) view would counter with, "Well, the NFL is setting itself up to announce an NFL move to Los Angeles sometime this fall (see story below), and if the Saints were to leave New Orleans it would be immediately after the 2005 season - the same time frame Benson had in mind for continuing negotiations. If he can get out in the media that the state wouldn't reach a deal before September, and then get his L.A. deal done sooner, there won't be anything left to discuss in January 2006. Besides, the season ticket sales have been way down from past years, so he's got nothing to lose."
So why would negotiations take place sooner than expected?
Well, this takes us to the situation in Los Angeles, where the L.A. Times reports today that new mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is putting pressure on the NFL to get a team there sooner than later. Villaraigosa is qoted as saying:
"My hope is that they are going to realize there are a lot of people who want a football team, but every year that they are not here is one more year where people start to forget."In other words - get it done, NFL, and get it done now.
The article also reports that the NFL has required all possible L.A. stadium locations to have a deal ready to sign by October, when NFL owners will meet to discuss their contract with the league's players union as well as revenue sharing issues.
A new deal on those fronts would easily pave the way for a franchise move to L.A. So would having a stadium in place.
So maybe the negotiations between Blanco and Benson are meant to occur before these events in October. If all goes poorly, Benson has a P.R. crutch to lean on if the league announces the Saints will move to L.A. in 2006.
All the pieces seem to be falling into place for such a move.