This story in the Times-Picayune has extensive information on the financial agreements between the state of Louisiana and its professional sports teams. Here are some facts on the lease agreement with the Saints:
The team's rent is capped at $800,000 a year until the lease expires in 2018, and the team pays no in-stadium game-day expenses, such as the cost of ushers and ticket-takers. The Saints also get 42 percent of the money generated by game-day concession sales, 100 percent of that from game-day parking, 100 percent of Superdome tours year-round, 100 percent of annual box suite revenue and 100 percent of game-day Superdome advertising.
The rent amounts to $80,000 a game, or less than $2 per seat. On that score, the Hornets do event better:
Besides getting use of the arena rent-free, the Hornets get 42 percent of gross concessions revenue and 100 percent of net parking revenue from their games, 100 percent of advertising and sponsorship revenue, the first $1.1 million of game-day staffing costs, plus 100 percent of the revenue (licensing fees and ticket sales for their games) from the arena's 56 luxury suites and 2,800 premium-price club seats.
They also get a subsidy to compensate them for the fact the state has failed to sell naming rights to the arena. That subsidy began at $1.5 million the franchise's first year in New Orleans and grows by 5 percent a year, meaning it's up to $1.65 million this year. If the naming rights are eventually sold, the Hornets would be entitled to more than $2.5 million a year.
The two teams claim that they "needed the payments to help them compete against franchises in larger, richer markets." If you buy that, let's play some cards. These subsidies are a wealth transfer, and do little to increase the incentive to put a competitive team on the field.