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

Friday, February 16, 2007

Great Saints animation

Here's a link to a funny and very well done Saints animation, courtesy the Times-Picayune:



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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

MARKED TURN: Blanco hopeful Saints will stay 'at least through 2010'; Team apparently considering exercising exit clause by March 31

Today's New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco is hopeful that the Saints will not cancel their present lease through exercising of the team's $61 million exit clause, and that they will stay put in New Orleans "until at least 2010."

Blanco told the Times-Picayune, "Our people are in talks. I think we are going to get a consensus (for the Saints) to stay at least through 2010. We are hoping that they don't (exercise the exit clause). I feel like discussions are leading them to staying until at least 2010."

It's a marked turn from previous discussions, where the talk was that the team would remain in New Orleans at least through 2010 when the present lease expires. It has been widely assumed that the team's $61 million exit clause, which was reduced from $81 million in July 2006, would not be exercised.

In fact, in September 2006 it was reported in the Times-Picayune that the team itself announced it would not exercise the exit clause.

(At the time, I questioned whether such an announcement actually took place. It's the only time I read this, and such news has not been indicated since.)

Now, it seems that Tom Benson may in fact utilize that exit clause (he has until March 31 to do so). Why else would Blanco say that people are in talks to keep the team under its present lease? Why else would she say that she hopes the team will stay "at least through 2010"?

Either something very troublesome to Saints fans is going on behind closed doors, or Blanco misspoke.

For what it's worth, Saints spokesman Greg Bensel is quoted in the article as saying that the team won't have any comment "until there is something to report; right now, there is nothing to report."

The article also notes, "The state has the right to cancel the contract after the 2007 season or by March 2008." It's a virtual certainty that the state will not pull the plug on the present deal. To do so would be the death knell of the Saints in New Orleans, initiated by the state and not the team.

Another key note is that Blanco has gone on the record as saying that the state will not pay any more than it has already agreed to pay in the previous agreement. To quote the article, Blanco said, "We are not going to enhance the money" in the present lease, which was hammered out in 2001 for 10 years and $186.5 million. The state is set to pay the Saints $20 million this summer, and owes the team $23.5 million after each of the remaining seasons under the current lease.

It's the only agreement of its kind in professional sports, and has been criticized not only by Blanco, but also by previous NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue. Presumably the two sides will work towards an alternative agreement to keep the team in New Orleans after 2010.

As for now, based on Blanco's comments, it appears the state is trying to coax the team from leaving by March 31.

Stay tuned...


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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Goodell: Saints a 'great story' but no long-term commitment made; NFL-to-L.A. a dead issue

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell held his first "State of the League" address on Friday, and he noted that the Saints were a "great story" but failed to extend any sort of long-term commitment to New Orleans.

Goodell was quoted in this story by Mike Triplett in today's Times-Picayune as saying:
"I think the New Orleans Saints and the whole Gulf Coast region has been a great story for the NFL this year, not just because of the Saints' success on the field, but also because of what you're seeing the team has done for that community. It's obviously a community that was tragically impacted. It is still going through a recovery period. But we're very proud of the fact that Tom Benson brought his Saints back there very early last year, before we even knew we had a place to play.

"The Saints brought hope back to their community, and people like Drew Brees and his wife have done great work there. We're proud of what the Saints have done, and our hats are off to Tom Benson and his group for doing it."
It's a great thing that Goodell acknowledges that the area is still in recovery mode and that the team has done great things for the community. Hopefully that relationship will continue, but the commish was noncommital when asked directly about the long-term viability of the Saints in New Orleans.

Also, to be fair, Goodell gives praise to Tom Benson when Goodell's predecessor, Paul Tagliabue, should be given a lot of credit for influencing Benson to keep the Saints in New Orleans. However, that's not to say that Benson hasn't done a lot of good since the Katrina debacle and the Tagliabue intervention. He has. Let's just hope he keeps it up.

And, Saints senior vice president Dennis Lauscha told Triplett that the Saints are interested in hosting another Super Bowl, but a new long-term lease agreement with Louisiana and the Superdome and completion of Superdome repairs are first in line.

With the offseason officially beginning after tonight's Super Bowl, negotiations between the Saints and Louisiana for that long-term lease should get underway soon. Keep an eye here for updates.

A Los Angeles Daily News column by Steve Dilbeck notes that Goodell's comments at the aforementioned "State of the League" address were not positive in terms of the NFL's return to L.A.

Goodell is quoted in the piece as saying, "We need to find a solution in LosAngeles that works for both the community and the NFL. It's important for us to be in LosAngeles long-term. But we've survived quite well without Los Angeles. Los Angeles has survived quite well without the NFL."

And, Dilbeck writes, "[R]ight now it is so far removed from being a priority to the league it barely earns a mention."

He also points out that the cost to build a stadium in Los Angeles would be upwards of $1 billion. Previous plans were that these costs would be footed by the league. Perhaps they made those thoughts public before knowing how much it would really cost, and that's one reason the NFL has cold feet about L.A.

And, L.A. is tired of being used as a relocation threat, writes Dilbeck:
"Los Angeles will always hold appeal, but even after years of using it to extort new stadiums out of existing NFL cities, the country is getting wise to the concept that there is no reasonable stadium solution here. The sky can only be falling so many times. There is no working solution even near the table."
Which means that the Saints will not be moving to Los Angeles in the near future, unless something changes dramatically on the NFL-to-L.A. front.

And that's great news for Saints fans.


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