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TallySaint 11-02-2005 01:38 PM

The Water Cooler: Saints: So What Now?
The Water Cooler: Saints: So what now?

San Antonio Express-News 11-2-05


From it's spot in the Express-News sports department the water cooler dispenses opinions on all varieties of sports topics.

For something that seemed terribly complicated just a few weeks ago, the Saints situation now looks as simple as hop scotch. Just don't step on the square marked "L.A." That would be nonsensical. Here's the other new Saints stuff, boiled down to what really matters:

First, Tom Benson isn't close to making a decision to move his team here permanently. He's looking for the best deal and doesn't mind taking his time to figure out where he can get it.

Second, the NFL/Louisiana consortium is now talking war chest for old Tom if he just comes home. Now, it appears, just the promise of a war chest may convince Benson that he shouldn't invoke force majeure and end his Superdome lease, which he has the right to do sometime before Nov. 29. Word is that Benson will be asked to agree to a force majeure extension. And he'll also be asked to refrain from any relocation discussions with San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger during that period.

Third, LSU is completely on board with the idea of hosting Saints home games next season and beyond.

Knowing all that, Mayor Hardberger, the ball is in your court. Here are two simple suggestions about how to dribble it:

First, insist that Benson void his Superdome lease by the Nov. 29 deadline. If he doesn't, plan a Saints farewell party for Christmas Eve and start booking the Alamodome for 2006 conventions. S.A., sadly, is starting to look like the other woman in a love triangle. No force majeure means Benson is going back to his wife. Be prepared to get over it.

Second, if Benson does kill the lease, give him a deadline to strike a deal with S.A. Benson must agree by, let's say, March 1, to move his team here and play in the Alamodome — with modest renovations — for, let's say, a five-year period. The city, at the end of two years, would be obligated to either present a plan for a new stadium or punt. If a plan is put forth, the Saints stay. If no stadium plan is presented, Benson gets to leave town at any time.

What's in it for the mayor? Hardberger keeps S.A. in the hunt for permanent possession of the Saints. He protects the interest of local fans, who otherwise could find themselves as substitute Saints subsidizers for a one-night-stand in 2006. He also buys time for stadium funding to materialize. And he places the burden on Benson to maintain a competitive team and market the thing.

And if Benson doesn't invoke force majeure? The whole deal is dead. Tom and the Thanksgiving turkey go down together.

What's in it for Benson? He buys long-term stability for his coaches, players and staff. He gives S.A. the only shot it has to slap together a stadium plan while maintaining its self-respect. And he throws the whole issue in the face of the NFL and Louisiana lawyers. Either they come up with a lucrative subsidy plan by the spring deadline, or they effectively surrender first-bid rights to S.A.

First things first — Benson has a Superdome damage clause to consider. May the force majeure be with you, Mr. Mayor.


TallySaint 11-02-2005 02:10 PM


Third, LSU is completely on board with the idea of hosting Saints home games next season and beyond.

Someone musta' had a chat with LSU officials. And gave 'em a little peek inside the war chest....


saintswhodi 11-02-2005 02:15 PM

Obviously. A couple weeks back the Chancellor of LSU was screaming what a nightmare it was to have to host Saints games.

Euphoria 11-02-2005 02:19 PM

The wrinkle is that the Dome can be ready for the 2006 season. They aren't sure if by week 4 to maybe 8, but its going to be ready with a temporary roof. Its playable. Looks like Baton Rouge may host a couple of games next year and thats it, the rest of the games are in the dome, Super Dome that is.

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