S.A. group with interest in Saints buys block of tix for last game in Alamodome; NFLPA: Louisiana a major possibility for Saints in '06
The company, HollyHills Group, will distribute the tickets to military personnel around San Antonio.
While I applaud supporting our military, I am admittedly suspicious of possible ulterior motives on the part of the HollyHills Group.
You see, this is the same group that is proposing to construct a sports and entertainment district in San Antonio, fully equipped with a brand new NFL football stadium. In fact, the first linked San Antonio Express-News article above states that HollyHills Group CEO Joe Heitzler told the paper that "the Saints are very interested in the stadium component of the sports and entertainment district."
(More details of the HollyHills plan can be found here.)
Purchasing nearly one-sixth of the Alamodome capacity to the Saints-Lions game on Christmas Eve is an act of good faith toward Tom Benson, who clearly has full intentions of moving the Saints to San Antonio by any means necessary (be it lying to staff or making his team practice in a parking lot).
Notably, this 10,000-ticket purchase also shows that there were about 40,000 seats sold for the game, since the official Saints news release states, "The generous donation swells the Saints' ticket count for the Dec. 24 clash against the Lions to well over 50,000."
(Use of the word "swells" shows that publicizing a large crowd at the Alamodome, whether by actual fan ticket purchases or large donations, will be relied upon by Benson in trying to sway the NFL to vote his way.)
And no, the crowd in Tiger Stadium for this Sunday's Panthers-Saints game may not be as large, but it must be pointed out that Benson has not treated the citizens of San Antonio or the state of Texas in nearly the same disrespectful and disingenous manner as New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Louisiana.
A lot of ill feeling has "swelled" towards Benson throughout Louisiana, which undoubtedly has driven down ticket sales in a state that has ardently supported the Saints through thin and thinner for nearly four decades.
It's also a direct contrast to the following story...
NFLPA: LOUISIANA A MAJOR POSSIBILITY FOR SAINTS IN '06
According to this article by Brian Allee-Walsh of the Times-Picayune, a Wednesday meeting conducted by NFL Players Association President Gene Upshaw with Saints players in San Antonio revealed that Upshaw's desires are for the team "to return to their training facility in Metairie and split their eight home games between Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge and the Superdome."
Saints defensive end Darren Howard, who by some accounts is likely to not be with the team after this season, told the Times-Picayune:
"The impression I got from (Upshaw) is we'd be back next year in New Orleans and play four games in the Superdome and four games in Baton Rouge. He didn't say it like that, but that's the impression I got.The San Antonio Express-News, however, refused to report this development in its edition today. A five-paragraph blurb made note of the meeting, but nothing was mentioned regarding a potential return of the Saints to New Orleans.
"I guess that's what he's arguing for and the commissioner is pushing for. If I had to guess, if I had to put my money on it, I think we'll be back in New Orleans next year. But it's all hearsay until it happens."
If this plan works out, it would alleviate player concerns about staying in one place if at all possible during the 2006 season, and ensure that NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue's promise of giving New Orleans another chance will not go unheeded.
It would further guarantee that Tommy Boy will yet again embarrass himself in some fashion at some point.
In fact, one has to wonder whether Benson lied to his staff yesterday, about the team's training facility and the state of the city, after hearing about Upshaw's meeting.
As always on this rollercoaster, we shall see.
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