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

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Coliseum nears deal with NFL; League hopes for announcement of return to LA this fall

According to the Los Angeles Daily News and other media sources, officials from the Los Angeles Coliseum and NFL met recently to iron out details of a potential deal to secure the site as a host to a relocated NFL franchise. The Daily News also reported that the NFL is "uncharacteristically optimistic" that a deal will be reached, and has even gone so far as to issue a statement for reporters to release if things went well. The statement said that the NFL is looking "forward to working on the long-form agreement with the Coliseum Commission."

The Los Angeles Times quoted Coliseum Commission member Zev Yaroslavsky as saying, "I think it's pretty clear now, and I think the NFL has been made a believer that the Coliseum is serious about making a deal."

In related news, the NFL hopes to finalize a site for a relocated franchise by this fall. And, in an effort to create momentum for the move, it will host a season kickoff concert in Los Angeles, likely at the Coliseum, on Thursday, Sept. 8, before the kickoff between the New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders. According to the Whittier Daily News, "[b]y putting an event in Los Angeles, the NFL hopes to generate momentum for a possible announcement this fall that it is returning to Los Angeles."

So, you see, things seem to be falling into place for the NFL and Coliseum. And, according to earlier reports, the Coliseum has expressed that it could be ready to serve as home for a relocated NFL franchise by as early as 2006. In effect, Tom Benson could very well be in position to pay Louisiana $81 million and relocate (unlikely) or (more likely) sell the team to the City of Angels for the already-expressed price of $1 billion.

Remove your biases and honestly ask yourself this - based on recent history, which of the following is more likely? Benson stays with the current deal he has stated he is unhappy with while the state continues to struggle to pay him by loaning itself money from some mysterious future source? Or Benson sells the team and retires from the football business as an instant billionaire? Only time will tell what will happen.

It seems more evident by the Coliseum developments that he will have the realistic option to do either.

NFL wins right to prevent opening books; Somewhere, Benson is smiling

There's more news on the antitrust lawsuit from Ohio against the Cincinnati Bengals and the NFL. After being told to open up its financial books,the NFL was on the beneficial end of a determination by a federal judge, who decided that the league should not turn over its financial information (or that of its teams, including the Saints) until a mediation hearing takes place. That mediation hearing is scheduled for tomorrow, July 27. Somewhere, I imagine Tom Benson was smiling with the NFL's big-money lawyers and their rock solid delay tactics. I'm guessing there will be a settlement and the books will never see the light of day.

(PS - An apology to those of you who saw my earlier report that the NFL had been forced to open its books. Though I'm usually good about this, I missed the dateline of the newspaper story that noted the magistrate's decision to force the NFL to open its books and those of its teams. The story I saw was from late June - not late July - and thus was old. I acknowledge the error.)

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Saints books to open? (and other Saints ramblings)

In some very interesting news that I just came across, a lawsuit filed by Hamilton County, Ohio against the Cincinnati Bengals and the NFL may force Tom Benson and the New Orleans Saints (along with the rest of the league's teams) to open their books for honest scrutiny.

Hamilton County is suing the Bengals and the NFL in an antitrust action, claiming that the Bengals and the NFL intentionally and repeatedly mislead area taxpayers about claims of the team needing a new stadium to be profitable and remain in Cincinnati. The federal magistrate ordered the NFL to provide financial information for the league and its teams (including the Saints) dating back to 1990. A motion to stay the release of documents was filed by the NFL, preventing this information from being submitted to date, but if the motion is denied, Tommy Boy better get ready to get his books open. A hearing on the motion will occur July 20.

According to the Cincinnati Post, Hamilton County attorneys are arguing that "the team emphasized its low revenues and struggle in a small market during negotiations, but in reality was reaping large profits."

Sound familiar? Anybody got a similar idea for a suit here in Louisiana?

Just FYI, this suit is over a one-half cent surtax to finance a new $450 million stadium in Cincinnati. At least the state of Ohio wasn't lured into giving the Bengals $15-22 million annually to "remain profitable" as well.

Also, in other news that has come since Saints Dependence Day has passed:

- Louisiana has agreed to furnish the Saints with tax money generated from slot machines at the New Orleans Fair Grounds horse racing track. The tax revenues from the slots won't nearly be enough to cover the annual Saints Dependence Day payments from Louisiana to Tom Benson and the Saints. And, even though they are estimated to range "from $6 million to $12 million," we in Louisiana have seen similar estimates fall far short of the actual numbers. (See: hotel revenues that were supposed to pay for the Saints Dependence Day payments.) Also, the slot machines won't be in operation until 2007. Whether the Saints will be in operation in New Orleans remains to be seen.

- Tom Benson still is planning on handing the duties of running his football team to his granddaughter. But it's not the Saints - according to, it's the New Orleans Voodoo of the Arena Football League. The fact that this is something that Bud Adams has done, and that Benson's plan for this is mentioned in a story about Bud Adams, has to make you wonder...what else will Bud and Tommy Boy have in common? Hmmmmmm.....I still think they'll both end up in a weekly golf foursome together, along with Robert Irsay and Art Modell.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


If you're wondering, that's the amount of the check the state of Louisiana handed Tom Benson and the New Orleans Saints earlier this week, on Saints Dependence Day. I think it's also the winning amount of the latest Powerball drawing. Imagine that - they hit the jackpot every June...and Tommy Boy doesn't even have to buy a ticket.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Saints Dependence Day is Tuesday, July 5

It's all but official - Louisiana will issue a check of around $13 million to the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday, July 5, according to Those fireworks you'll see that night on Airline Drive won't be for Independence Day. No, they'll be for what should now be known as Saints Dependence Day.

(In a related story, several in Louisiana will wear black on Tuesday to commemorate the occasion. Yes, I'm kidding. I think.)

I wonder what Saints owner Tom Benson will be doing this Saints Dependence Day. I wonder whether he'll be celebrating Saints Dependence Day on Lake Pontchartrain in his luxurious yacht. I also wonder what Benson will get with this year's annual Saints Dependence Day gift.

In other news, I just found the following quote regarding Benson, by Rep. Juan LaFonta from New Orleans, in a June 2, 2005 Times-Picayune story :
"(My constituents) see a greedy old man with a huge yacht in Lake Pontchartrain while other things in the city are falling down."
According to the same article, LaFonta already is positioning for what will be done with the $81 million in Benson/Saints exit clause money if that clause is exercised after the 2005 Saints season. (FYI, LaFonta would like the City of New Orleans to get all of that money if it comes available...which is perfectly appropriate since the Saints' contract is with the State of Louisiana, and the check last year and this Tuesday will be from the State of Louisiana. Yes, I'm being sarcastic.)

Isn't it telling that in a Q&A on the Saints' official web site, it's revealed that the Saints' logo is a symbol of King Louis XIV of France? Here's a quote on Louis XIV from
"Louis's efforts did not bring prosperity to the common people of France. His numerous wars and extravagant palaces effectively bankrupted the nation, forcing him to levy high taxes on the peasants. As the nobility and clergy had exemption from paying these taxes, the peasantry came to resent them."
Draw your own conclusions.

In any event, I wish every Louisiana citizen the best Saints Dependence Day possible. If you wish to send more of your own hard-earned money to Benson than the state has already allocated, here's the address:

New Orleans Saints
Attn: Tom Benson
5800 Airline Drive
Metairie, LA 70003

Friday, July 01, 2005

USA Today reports...

The USA Today Pro Football "Inside Scoop" reported the following in its "The Buzz" section on June 29:
"The state of Louisiana is running out of ways to pay its annual obligations to the Saints, which could cause the state to default on a 2001 agreement as early as next year and hasten the Saints' moving plans to Los Angeles."