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Open letter from Tom Benson

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; OPEN LETTER TO OUR FANS IN LOUISIANA AND THE GULF COAST TOM BENSON WANTS TO RETURN TO NEW ORLEANS. I WAS BORN IN NEW ORLEANS, WENT TO SCHOOL AT OUR LADY STAR OF THE SEA NEAR ST. ROCH PARK IN ...

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Old 10-26-2005, 11:57 AM   #1
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Open letter from Tom Benson

OPEN LETTER TO OUR FANS IN LOUISIANA AND THE GULF COAST

TOM BENSON WANTS TO RETURN TO NEW ORLEANS.

I WAS BORN IN NEW ORLEANS, WENT TO SCHOOL AT OUR LADY STAR OF THE SEA NEAR ST. ROCH PARK IN THE 8TH WARD, ATTENDED ST. ALOYISOUS HIGH SCHOOL, AND ATTENDED LOYOLA UNIVERSITY. NEW ORLEANS IS MY HOMETOWN.

IT IS MY INTENTION AND GOAL THAT MY GRANDCHILDREN WILL CARRY ON MY LEGACY OF OWNING THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS. BOTH ARE CURRENTLY AND ACTIVELY INVOLVED IN THE OPERATION OF THE SAINTS. RITA BENSON LEBLANC IS A KEY EXECUTIVE AND HER BROTHER IS A SAINTS ADVISOR AND BOTH ACT AS DIRECTORS.

THE PAST FEW WEEKS HAVE BEEN DIFFICULT TO SAY THE LEAST. HOWEVER, IN SPITE OF THE DIFFICULTIES, I HAVE MADE AND WILL CONTINUE TO MAKE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN CONTRIBUTIONS ANNUALLY TO NEW ORLEANS CHARITIES, WHICH IN MY OPINION IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER FOR OUR COMMUNITY.

ON NUMEROUS OCCASIONS I HAVE REFUSED LUCRATIVE OFFERS TO SELL THE SAINTS IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN THEIR PRESENCE IN NEW ORLEANS.

HOWEVER, WE HAD NO CHOICE BUT TO MOVE OUR OPERATIONS SINCE FEDERAL AND STATE AUTHORITIES TOOK OVER OUR TRAINING FACILITY IN NEW ORLEANS WITHOUT NOTICE OR PERMISSION. THE ONLY OTHER CHOICE WAS TO FORGO THE SEASON.

After reviewing the reports about our team and the abundance of wide-sweeping negative media commentary and columns, I offer this:

NO DECISION HAS BEEN MADE ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THE TEAM, because no decision has been made about the future of New Orleans. Our city endured one of the worst catastrophes in history and I clearly stated in the days following that it is our desire to be at the table during the rebuilding and revitalization of our city. However, there are many factors that will affect the future of our team, the same factors that will affect the future of many other companies when faced with the decision to return to the city of New Orleans. No one within our organization has offered or made any official comment about what our long term plans are, since the factors that will determine our situation are still unresolved. That is why we have not stated anything publicly, because it is still too early to determine. But my desire is to return to New Orleans.

It must be stated that we and the NFL have made no decision relative to the future of the Saints. It is remarkable that we have been able to continue operating under the circumstances, a testament to our staff and the assistance we have received in San Antonio as well as Baton Rouge.

San Antonio is a city in which I have deep relationships and I am grateful to them for allowing us access to their facilities. We have been displaced, but yet we forge on to represent New Orleans and the region with pride and determination. We have retained nearly 97% of our workforce, many of whom still remain separated from their families.

Our training facilities in New Orleans were utilized by the government for relief efforts. The Superdome has suffered damage that may keep it offline indefinitely. Operating an NFL team requires months of planning and because of that, we need to look at all of the options that are available to our team in the immediate future.

It must be made very clear that the future of our team in New Orleans will be determined by factors that are yet unresolved, such as, economics and facilities, the very issues that we have struggled with prior to Hurricane Katrina.

I am aware that the many comments and speculation coming out of Texas and other places only inflame the emotions of our fans, and rhetoric of the media in New Orleans. Many cities desire an NFL franchise and the politicians of these cities are going to continue to voice this desire. Our own Mayor did a similar thing in leading the campaign to bring the Hornets to New Orleans from Charlotte. Yet, when the subject matter of the Saints arises, comments from our current Mayor are made without a single phone call being placed to our team to check on our plans or to get the facts. If the Saints and Tom Benson were as important to the city as the Mayor of our city has claimed in the recent past, why such harsh comments, when a simple phone call could have saved him from embarrassment.

I take the responsibility of owning this team seriously. I understand that of all the businesses that may never return to New Orleans, the thought and discussion of the Saints not returning to New Orleans is a subject that will garner the most intense scrutiny of the public and media. A direct result of this scrutiny has been the many negative editorials and columns written or said about me. These are from some media people who have never run a company and have no clear understanding of how to run a successful business. In fact, many New Orleans businesses have either moved, permanently closed, or are dramatically downsizing, because of this tragic event. We are one company from New Orleans that has poured its heart and soul into staying afloat and on track. We wish nothing but the best and the speediest recovery for the many businesses and families affected by the hurricane.

In retrospect, I can say that I am very proud of our organization and how we have responded. We did not fold, we did not suspend, we did not downsize, we have continued to operate and represent the city and fans of New Orleans. When the time is right and the factors that are yet unresolved, are resolved, a decision on the future of the team will be made. Until then, we should all work together to find answers to the many questions that remain unanswered in making New Orleans a better city than it was prior to this catastrophe.

Sincerely,







Tom Benson
Owner-New Orleans Saints

http://www.nfl.com/partners/aol/inde...AOL=1032156097
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Old 10-26-2005, 12:02 PM   #2
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Nice letter -- the criticism must be taking its toll. I couldn't find it on the link though --
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Old 10-26-2005, 12:26 PM   #3
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Link to the actual ad in the Times Picayune...

http://www.nola.com/hurricane/katrin...05/1026D03.pdf
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Old 10-26-2005, 12:39 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by 4saintspirit
Nice letter -- the criticism must be taking its toll. I couldn't find it on the link though --
It is posted on the front page of the Saints official site ......

Where is Saintfan ??? The naughty link policeman ......
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Old 10-26-2005, 01:44 PM   #5
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I really don't see much new here. It is good to see him make a statement, though. He does continue to drive the point home of likening the Saints to other businesses - not returning to New Orleans.

.....and reminding us that business is business. Something we must all remember and take into account, regardless of what we think of Benson's heart.

Good read. Thanks, guys.



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Old 10-26-2005, 03:17 PM   #6
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Why did it take 8 weeks for Mr. Benson to make this statement? Why is there such poor communication about this topic? If this is clearly an important issue, why isn't there anyone from the organization in New Orleans representing the team's and the owner's interest as the recovery progresses?

While this open letter is nice, it doesn't move anything forward on the communication front. It is still "10 foot poling" New Orleans.
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Old 10-26-2005, 06:03 PM   #7
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In my opinion, the NFL and Benson are weary of the brow-beating they are taking on the issue. I suspect after the heavy negative press (Benson in the fridge stuff,etc) of the last week and Louisiana officials' contact with the league brought statements. The league office had much to do with the responses. The NFL, Benson and Los Angeles all had something to say within days of each other. Regardless of what we think, nothing has been decided. I think there is much to be discussed amongst all the powers that be. I also think the negative press and pressure has probably been a plus for Saints fans. The letter from Benson, Tag's concern publically, L.A.'s statement and a sudden San Antonio silence isn't by chance. Ya' know?

You've probably seen the last of "communication" for a while. All of 'em hope the barrage of "concerned" statements recently have deflected the issue for a while. Off the front page. The national sports media will move on to other matters. Any concern for the Saints and New Orleans will soon be page three news, my friend.

While I'm on my soapbox here... I think the mayor's talk of the Cleveland Plan was "knee-jerk" and a little pre-mature. I wasn't impressed. Unless he knows for fact that the Saints are gone, permanently, he should have taken time to warm up to Tag and the league and re-enforced the idea of the Saints settling into a temporary home while New Orleans regroups. Instead of writing the team off.


There. I've said it. I feel a little better.



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Old 10-26-2005, 06:09 PM   #8
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Benson claims he has knowledge of how to run a successful business. Anyone here think that the current (since Benson was in charge) Saints organization is a success?
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Old 10-26-2005, 06:17 PM   #9
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Benson claims he has knowledge of how to run a successful business. Anyone here think that the current (since Benson was in charge) Saints organization is a success?

I really don't know that much about him and business dealings. Only what I've heard here and read about him and the state goin' round and round. But I do know, strictly from a business sense, he's got legitimate concerns from a business standpoint. At least from a post-Katrina point of view. Certainly you agree?


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Old 10-26-2005, 06:28 PM   #10
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I agree. From what I understand about the situation, and it's not a lot, is that Benson can stay in New Orleans and still be profitable and do alright, but by moving to another city he can make much more than he can in N.O. So sure, as a businessman, he's got serious issues that he is going to have to face
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