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

Saturday, December 30, 2006

T-P: Blanco upbeat about new deal with Saints

Today's New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco is optimistic about reaching a new deal with Saints owner Tom Benson to keep the team in New Orleans beyond 2010, when the team's present lease ends.

The article provides that negotiatons between the state and the team will take place following the present season, which has been an amazing, magical ride with a very real possibility of continuing to unprecedented heights.

Importantly, Blanco states that a new stadium likely will not be possible to build within the next five years.

This might be a sticking point, but notably most other places around the country likely could not offer a new stadium within that same time period either. The five-year window could offset such an argument by the Saints that they could relocate because they need a new facility.

Plus, the renovated Superdome is a better facility now than it was pre-Katrina, and the upgrades that have been made should quell any demands for a new stadium within that five-year time period.

Blanco probably won't get re-elected in '07 - and rightfully so, by this writer's opinion (she has largely been an embarrassment who has mishandled the tragedies that have hit Louisiana). But her successor very possibly will be Bobby Jindal, a former member of the Mike Foster administration. Foster and Benson were able to hammer out the ridiculously lucrative deal that presently exists, and Jindal and Benson likely would work well together.

My reasoning for that thought is that Benson won't be demanding the moon in his next deal, for two reasons: (1) I believe he has turned a different leaf since the NFL's (and ex-commish Paul Tagliabue's) intervention post-Katrina, and (2) the NFL won't want to ruin what has been a very good public relations run in helping rebuild New Orleans by not ripping the city's team (and a lot of economic impact that goes along with it) from it.

An interesting sidebar to keep in mind is that Benson won't be running the ship forever, and that eventually (read: likely sooner than later) his granddaughter, Rita Benson LeBlanc, will be handed the reins. Benson won't want to pass the team over to her with a bum deal in place.

Bottom line? This needs to happen. The Saints mean an awful lot both to the economy as well as the psyche of New Orleans, and Louisiana, and the Gulf Coast. They are to New Orleans what the Red Sox are to Boston, or the Knicks to New York. New Orleans and the Saints go together like red beans and rice, and both sides - the state and the team - should recognize that and hammer out the best possible deal for both sides.

Throw out the unrealistic b.s. and the hard-ass bargaining. Go to the table with a common goal, be reasonable, and help one another get this done.

In the mean time, our Saints have the No. 2 seed in the NFC and a first-round bye in the upcoming playoffs. They have a very real chance of making a serious run at a Super Bowl. Let's all focus on pulling our Saints to victory - GEAUX SAINTS, and LAISSEZ LES BON TEMPS ROULLER!


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Thursday, December 21, 2006

What's next for the Saints?

Okay, so it's been a month since I've last posted. Things have been going swimmingly with the Saints, so there hasn't been much of a need to report anything of concern.

But, one article in today's New York Times caught my eye. The piece, entitled "Granddaughter of Saints’ Boss Is Getting Ready to Call the Plays" by Lee Jenkins, talks about Rita Benson LeBlanc's future ownership of the Saints.

It's no surprise that Rita will be the next owner, based upon statements made by Tom Benson over the last year or so.

But, what I didn't realize were the extent of the ties she has to San Antonio.

For example, prior to reading this article, I was unaware that the Benson's had a family ranch outside of San Antonio. It's where Rita's mother and brother both live. In fact, Rita's mother runs that ranch.

Of course, there's Benson's car dealerships in San Antonio as well.

This article led me to do a bit more research on Rita, just to see what her background is. This Times-Picayune story from March 2006 by Mike Triplett is a very similar, yet more in-depth, piece on Rita. Here's what it says:

- Rita was born in Houma, but grew up in Johnson City, Texas - a small town just a few miles west of Austin, and a short drive from San Antonio.

- She graduated college from Texas A&M.

- Her parents lived in Cutoff, Louisiana, when she was born, but then moved to San Antonio shortly after, and then to the family ranch in Johnson City when she was 2 years old. (Not sure if this is the same family ranch referred to in the NY Times article...)

- Most importantly, she is quoted to say, "New Orleans is home to the Saints."

Obviously, Rita has an awful lot of ties to central Texas. However, based on her comments to Mike Triplett, she seems to understand where the Saints belong.

But, there are no guarantees. Those central Texas ties are strong, and having the support system of her parents, brother, and grandfather right there with her when she does take ownership of the team might be more important to her than anything.

At least for now, with the team's commitment to Saints fans in not raising season ticket prices for 2007, and the smooth ride that the 2006 season has been thus far, we can hope that New Orleans has proven it wants to be "home to the Saints" forever.

We shall see...


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