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, August 30, 2005

God bless New Orleans

As everyone knows by now, the Big Easy got hit hard by Hurricane Katrina earlier this week and will be hurting for quite some time. God bless the great city of New Orleans and all of its citizens, many of whom are enduring their most difficult and trying of days. Katrina may have knocked you down, and it may seem like things are desperate and beyond repair, but stay patient and positive and keep the faith. Slowly but surely, you will make it back, in more ways than one.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Report: NFL to L.A. deal '95 percent done'

Yesterday's L.A. Daily News reports that a Coliseum Commission member confirmed that, with regard to an agreement to bring an NFL team to Los Angeles and play in the Coliseum, "The deal is 95 percent done...We are pretty close to an agreement with the NFL."

The article also notes that NFL owners will meet Oct. 26-27 to determine a team location in southern California, with two sites (Coliseum and an area in Anaheim) competing for the yet-to-be-named team. The Coliseum is the clear frontrunner at this point.

Grounds for a new stadium near the Coliseum could be broken next year, with the facility operational by 2009. However, as reported earlier on this site, the Coliseum could begin hosting NFL games as early as next year.

It may be beneficial to have a team in Los Angeles in 2006, prior to the groundbreaking for a new stadium, so that the area can push its support behind a team it knows will house the new facility. Also, the new team's owners would probably need to have some input on the construction of the stadium.

Which all continues to fit within the very realistic possibility of Tom Benson utilizing the $81 million option to get out of the lease with Louisiana after the 2005 season and sell the team to Los Angeles investors for $1 billion.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Why no Haslett extension?

I was reading a story earlier today about the Saints and coach Jim Haslett, and wondered whether Haslett ever signed that extension he was promised by Tom Benson after last season.

I'll save you the suspense if you don't already know - he hasn't.

As a flashback, from the the January 9, 2005, Columbia Daily Tribune, entitled "Haslett to return to Saints after strong finish," Haslett met with Benson in January and was assured he was returning to the team for the 2005 season and probably for longer than that. The story continues:
"Haslett also is in the process of negotiating a two-year contract extension for himself and his coaching staff, two team sources said. The deals could be finalized as early as next week.
'Obviously, there’s been a lot of speculation about the coach the whole year, and we wanted to get that behind us as quick as possible,' (Saints general manager Mickey) Loomis said. 'We’re strongly behind Jim. He’s our coach.'"
Again, that was in January.

Then, in March, the New Orleans Times-Picayune's Saints Watch Weblog under the headline, "Haslett Extension Coming Soon," reported that we should "Expect to see the Saints lock up Haslett in a two or three year contract extension that could keep the embattled coach in New Orleans until at least 2009."

The season kicks off in three weeks, and Haslett still has no extension.

Why not?

Well, a lot has happened since January in Saintsland. If you've been to this site before, you know where I think things are headed (see the timeline at the bottom of the article, "Finney nails it," as well as updates to that timeline here and here.). Perhaps Benson has gotten an offer for the Saints, and perhaps he's conditionally accepted with an agreement to maintain the status quo until he can buy his way out of the agreement with Louisiana after the 2005 season. Perhaps then he'll sell the team to a group of L.A. investors for $1 billion, and perhaps the new owners won't want Haslett to be coach.

And perhaps, with the news posted earlier today about a confirmation of the NFL's plan to reach an agreement with Los Angeles in the next two months, some information on plans to move the Saints to Los Angeles will come down in October or shortly thereafter.

An extension for a coach the new owners don't want, right before such a sale takes place, would be problematic.

And so, like Saints fans everywhere, Haslett coaches on in FAITH while he waits for Tommy Boy to come through, wondering with the rest of us what truths the future holds.

L.A. Business Journal notes NFL-L.A. deal likely near

Not much to report as of late, except that the Los Angeles Business Journal noted in its August 19 "Morning Headlines" (under the subhead "Will Political Egos Fumble NFL’s Return to L.A.?") that a deal between the NFL and Los Angeles is "likely to be cut within the next two months." At a minimum, that fits the timeline previously provided on this site for an announcement of the NFL's return to L.A.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Why would Benson and Blanco resume talks sooner than expected? Plus, L.A. mayor applies pressure

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports today that an official from Kathleen Blanco's administration has confirmed that Blanco and Saints owner Tom Benson are looking at re-starting negotiations to keep the team in New Orleans earlier than expected.

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.