saints (n.) - NFL franchise presently based in New Orleans; boondoggle (n.) - an unnecessary or wasteful project or activity; saintsdoggle (n.) - the Saints' potential relocation situation in New Orleans, and the resulting boondoggle by Louisiana to keep the team from leaving

Thursday, October 27, 2005

NFL officials confirm Saints-to-L.A. possibility; Archie Manning trashes Benson; SOS to Tagliabue; Training facility in 'very good condition'

Today's Washington Post notes that the NFL and the Saints are attempting to determine whether to move the team to Los Angeles permanently.

The article, "Saints could end up in L.A." by Mark Maske and Leonard Shapiro, cites insider sources for the story.

As for San Antonio, which has shamelessly used the Katrina tragedy as an opportunity to grab the Saints, the article states that "the league has no interest in that city as a permanent home for the club."

One source quoted in the story even went so far as to say, "We have absolutely no obligation to San Antonio. None."

That source noted that the Saints could stay in San Antonio next season, then move to Los Angeles for the 2007 campaign. That scenario had been reported by ESPN's Chris Mortensen this past weekend.

Also, the source didn't rule out a return to New Orleans, though Los Angeles looms large: "If you're looking at it long-term, L.A. is a no-brainer. But I also think we need to give New Orleans and Louisiana a shot."

The Post also reports that Louisiana officials are repairing the Superdome at costs presently ranging from $125 million to $200 million, all of which should be covered by insurance or federal funds. Additional improvements could have a tag of an additional $175 million, which the state would have to come up with.

One owner, who also is a member of the NFL committee to watch over Tom Benson, is quoted in the article as saying that "'the league is trying to do the right thing' and keep the franchise in New Orleans, but might not be able to do so because the city 'has terrible troubles.'"

The most popular Saint of all has come out in full opposition to the antics exhibited by Benson.

Archie Manning was interviewed by Rick Cleveland of the Mississippi Clarion-Ledger, and had the following to say:
"I'd like to say I'm shocked and surprised, but the truth is I'm not. As a New Orleans resident and a long-time Saint, I am embarrassed by it.

"These fans, these New Orleans and Gulf South fans have filled the Superdome 39 straight times over the last few seasons. The Saints have the highest average attendance per victory in the history of professional football. They don't deserve this.

"They don't deserve for the owner to turn his tail and run before the first house goes under water.

"I understand that business is business, but what (Benson) is doing is not right. Come next spring or next fall, if it's just not possible to come back, then OK, but the people of New Orleans deserve better than what they're getting from Benson now."
For Manning, one of New Orleans' classiest citizens/representatives, to come out in such fashion, speaks volumes.

A group of Saints fans have united their efforts and hired an airplane to fly a banner over Tiger Stadium this Sunday, during the Saints-Dolphins matchup.

The banner will read, "Mr. Tagliabue: SOS — Save our New Orleans Saints."

The San Antonio Express-News reports today that Louisiana officials have indicated to Benson that the team's Metairie training facility, on which Benson has sought to cancel the lease due to damages, is in "very good condition."

That's acccording to Larry Roedel, an attorney representing the commission that runs the Louisiana Superdome.

The state's chief negotiator in its talks with the Saints, Tim Coulon, also chimed in, saying, "It looks to be very functional, very usable. I think it is a better facility than the facility they have to practice at now (in San Antonio)."