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saintz08 05-19-2004 11:59 PM

Blanco dissolves blue-ribbon stadium commission
Blanco dissolves blue-ribbon stadium commission

06:11 AM CDT on Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Mary Foster / Associated Press

The New Orleans Saints' demand for a new stadium during negotiations with the state two years ago sparked a frenzy of negotiations and the appointment of a blue ribbon commission.

It apparently did little else, and on Tuesday the governor dissolved the commission and shifted its responsibilities to the Louisiana Stadium & Exposition District which operates the dome.

The NFL Stadium Advisory Commission, set up by then-Gov. Mike Foster to study whether the Saints should get a new stadium or if the Superdome could be renovated to satisfy them, never got into the issue, members said.

"The commission has not met in a year," said local developer Pres Kabacoff. "If they have, they haven't notified me."

The 55-member commission was scheduled to issue its final report next month. On Tuesday, Tim Coulon, head of the LSED, sent a letter to Gov. Kathleen Blanco noting that the requirement to evaluate the concept of a new stadium or a renovated Superdome was included in the deal the state worked out with the Saints.

Without mentioning the commission's failure to complete the study, Coulon said the LSED has assumed a larger leadership role in the study and in issuing the report. Coulon's letter said the board had authorized a separate stadium and market analysis by sports consultant Barrett Sports Group. He expects the report to be ready by June 1.

The commission had done little work on either the feasibility of renovating the Superdome or building a new stadium. Kabacoff said he was supposed to head a committee to look into renovating the Superdome, but the committee never did anything.

"I think that what's happened is they just abandoned the idea of renovating the Superdome or building a new stadium," Kabacoff said. "I think a lot occurred after the committee was appointed and it's just been dormant."

The other function of the commission, to study the feasibility of building a stadium, was hamstrung by a lack of money, said commission member Warren Reuther.

"Our committee submitted a budget for us to go and tour different facilities and see what's new, what's being done, what's state of the art, but Governor Foster did not fund it," Reuther said. "We haven't met in some time, and very frankly there is no doubt that at this time the state does not have the money to build a new stadium. There's no use kidding ourselves. The Saints will play in the Superdome for a long time."

Saints vice president of administration Arnold Fielkow said he was not surprised that the commission was defunct. He refused to comment on where that left the team and its pursuit of a new stadium, however.

"I don't want to talk about it now," Fielkow said.

WhoDat 05-20-2004 08:47 AM

Blanco dissolves blue-ribbon stadium commission
What the F is going on down there? This committee or new organization or whoever it is better come back with recommendations that Tom Benson likes. First they can\'t pay the debt to the team, now we find out that the group tasked with investigating a new stadium deal hasn\'t done anything!!! Gentlemen - my most bold of predictions: The Saints will leave New Orleans by 2010.

saintfan 05-20-2004 08:59 AM

Blanco dissolves blue-ribbon stadium commission
You\'re right Whodat, unless the State can get someone in office that has some sort of a clue. Losing the Saints would be terrible for the image of New Orleans and the State as a whole...they\'re part of the identity...and losing the Saints would reach far futher than just football.

Sounds like Foster was trying to buy time -- and unfortunatley is seems like this Blanco (insert colorful metaphor here) is as clueless as she could possible be. I think she has an agenda. ;)

By the way the State has the money, she just doesn\'t wanna hand it over.

[Edited on 20/5/2004 by saintfan]

GumboBC 05-20-2004 09:04 AM

Blanco dissolves blue-ribbon stadium commission
I shouldn\'t even jump in this, but.................

First off all, it\'s not the state of Louisiana\'s fault that Benson isn\'t making the kind of money he wants to. Yeah, the Saints generate money for the state in all kind of different ways. So do a lot of other companies. If Wal-Mart starts having trouble, does the state have an obligation to bail them out?

States have gotten in the business of offering the world to lure or keep big business in their state. It\'s competitive and Louisiana can\'t compete with a lot of other states. It\'s as simple as that.

With that said, the state made the agreement and they need to honor it. But, what else will Benson want in the future. He negotiated a 180-million dollar deal from the state this time. How much next time? Does the state of Louisiana have an obligation to keep supporting the Saints as long as the amount of money put out doesn\'t exceed the amount of money the Saints generate for the state? Well, who else gets that kind of deal ? NOBODY!! We all love the Saints, but there\'s two sides here folks.

WhoDat 05-20-2004 09:13 AM

Blanco dissolves blue-ribbon stadium commission
Billy - you\'re right, the State doesn\'t bail out other companies and maybe that\'s part of the reason there are so few good ones there. Don\'t think it happens elsewhere? The State of Illinois and City of Chicago made ALL KINDS of concessions a few years back to lure Boeing here. And Boeing creates jobs and brings wealth, but how many Boeing employees pay taxes on $36 million dollar salaries? How many $300+ million dollar Super Bowls does Boeing attract?

Other states have realized the importance of professional sports in not only generating revenue, but attracting new business and helping the local economy. That\'s why so many other teams have new stadiums and the Saints are in one of the oldest.

You think this should just be a capitalist exercise in which the State let\'s the Saints sink or swim? Problem is the Saints won\'t sink - they\'ll move to another pond where they get a new stadium, tax breaks, and other concessions from a friendly government.

GumboBC 05-20-2004 09:20 AM

Blanco dissolves blue-ribbon stadium commission
WhoDat -- Do you read ALL of my posts?


States have gotten in the business of offering the world to lure or keep big business in their state. It\'s competitive and Louisiana can\'t compete with a lot of other states. It\'s as simple as that.
It\'s pretty common knowledge that states give big business all kind of perks. Here in Mississippi, Nissan was lured here by the state donating the land and drastically lowering their taxes.

But, the fact is this is getting to be \"team\" free-agency. Teams don\'t get the deal they want, well..............let\'s threaten to move. Let\'s holdout!! What teams are doing is not right, IMO.

[Edited on 20/5/2004 by GumboBC]

[Edited on 20/5/2004 by GumboBC]

WhoDat 05-20-2004 09:28 AM

Blanco dissolves blue-ribbon stadium commission
Yeah I read it - it didn\'t seem like that was the point you were stressing. If your point is that it\'s wrong for the Saints to do this to the State - OK. I disagree. If the team feels it is generating a lot of money for the State and in the process it is suffering and making less money than it could elsewhere, then IMO, it\'s not unfair for the team to ask the State to donate some of the profits that the state is making to level out the team\'s opportunity losses as a result of staying in the state (and thus making the state more money). Seems fair to me.

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