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Saints seek "permanent solution"

2004 July 1
by Skip Sauer

Louisiana’s failure to honor its $186 million payment to New Orleans owner Tom Benson – they are $7m behind and Benson is baying about leaving – shares obvious similarities with the financial plight of Pittsburgh discussed yesterday. It’s an ongoing story in the Louisiana newspapers, with some offering earnest views about the importance of an NFL team to the state’s image and economy.

One gets a bellyful of half-witted earnestness pretty quick, so it’s refreshing to come across this critical but humorous article by James Gill.

In a letter to Gov. Kathleen Blanco, Tom Benson says he is ready to begin negotiations on a “permanent solution” that would keep his Saints in town.

This is great news, because, as experience has shown, a permanent solution for the Saints can last as much as two years longer than a temporary fix.

The solution Blanco inherited from her predecessor Mike Foster was three parts hocus pocus and one part wishful thinking. Thus, with the state short $7 million on the installment due this year under a subsidy deal reached less than three years ago, the Legislature tapped the state Department of Economic Development with an airy promise that the Superdome Commission would pay the money back in eight years.

Most of the Legislature will have been term-limited back to honest work by that time, but leaving intractable problems for posterity is a favorite trick in Louisiana government. That is precisely what Foster and his self-styled boy wonder Stephen Perry did when making the spurious guarantee that Benson now wants Blanco to honor.

You can hardly blame Benson for insisting that the state honor its commitment to give him $186 million over 10 years and either build him the new stadium he craves or at least splurge many millions on a Superdome upgrade. Benson does not think it is right to renege on a contract unless he is the one doing the reneging.

Heh. Louisiana politics is a first rate spectator sport.

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