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Saints suspend talks with state

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Saints suspend talks with state Benson: Pay what's owed, then negotiate Tuesday, June 15, 2004 By Robert Travis Scott Capital bureau http://www.nola.com/saints/t-p/index...4656287640.xml BATON ROUGE -- New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson has cut off negotiations on reworking the team's contract ...

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Old 06-15-2004, 01:20 PM   #1
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Saints suspend talks with state

Saints suspend talks with state
Benson: Pay what's owed, then negotiate

Tuesday, June 15, 2004
By Robert Travis Scott
Capital bureau

http://www.nola.com/saints/t-p/index...4656287640.xml


BATON ROUGE -- New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson has cut off negotiations on reworking the team's contract with the state until he gets the full $15 million state subsidy payment due this summer, team and state officials said Monday.

Tim Coulon, the former Jefferson Parish president who is chairman of the Superdome Commission, said he views Benson's position as a reversal of the stance he took after meeting this month with Gov. Kathleen Blanco in which both sides talked about continuing negotiations.

"It's contrary to what he and the governor indicated would happen," Coulon said.

But Arnold Fielkow, Saints executive vice president of administration, said that a letter sent to state officials June 7 about suspending talks was only an official notification of Benson's request that the state honor its immediate financial obligation before proceeding with negotiations.

"It's consistent with Mr. Benson's position that a deal is a deal," Fielkow said.

Blanco spokeswoman Denise Bottcher said the governor would like to speak with Benson before commenting publicly about the letter.

The letter from Fielkow to Blanco's chief of staff, Andy Kopplin, says team representatives would be prepared "to begin this discussion after this year's obligations have been satisfied."

Blanco and the Legislature are looking for ways to budget or borrow about $7 million to make the state's full $15 million payment due the Saints by July 5. If the state misses that deadline, it would still have 75 days to pay before the Saints would be free to leave Louisiana without paying a $75 million exit penalty.


No meeting of minds

Blanco, Benson and Coulon have met twice to discuss the payment and the possibility of renegotiating the deal the state made with the team in 2001, when Mike Foster was governor.

After a three-hour meeting June 3 at the Saints' office in Metairie, Benson said he expected full payment in time for the state to avoid a default. He also said, "We are going to meet as often as it takes."

Benson at the time said his aides would speak with Blanco's advisers to talk about points of renegotiation.

But Coulon said Benson is now refusing to meet with Blanco or let his staff meet with the governor's staff until the $15 million payment is made in full.

The Superdome Commission brought sports marketing consultant Dan Barrett, head of Barrett Sports Group of Manhattan Beach, Calif., to New Orleans last week in anticipation of a meeting with the Saints, Coulon said, but the team refused to meet with him.

The governor and the commission are citing Barrett's recent study to support their contention that a renovated Superdome, rather than the new stadium that Benson wants, is the most profitable option for the team in the future.


Inducement package

"We continue to be very positive and very optimistic relative to the state-Saints partnership," Fielkow said Monday. "Blanco has publicly stated that the state recognizes the contractual commitments need to be and will be honored. We look forward to sitting down with them after July 5 to discuss the existing contract and also other manners involving a long-term situation, which will keep the Saints competitive with the other 31 teams in the NFL and also be beneficial to our entire community.

"We have an excellent relationship with Gov. Blanco and Tim Coulon and their staffs and we look forward in the very near future to meeting with them in good faith . . . to work toward a long-term solution," Fielkow said.

The 2001 inducement package was designed to help make the Saints more profitable and keep them in New Orleans until at least 2010. The annual payments escalate from $15 million this year to $23.5 million by 2010.

The revenue was supposed to come from a hotel-motel tax in the New Orleans area that as of mid-2001 had been a growing and dependable source of cash for the Dome, New Orleans Arena and other state projects. The deal was signed just after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which have hurt the travel business and reduced the money flowing from the hotel-motel tax.

Money also was supposed to come from selling the naming rights to the Superdome and Arena, but the state has failed to find a buyer.

The state ran short of its annual payment last year, but the Dome's management company, SMG, pledged $3 million to help the state meet its obligation in exchange for an extended contract.

The Fielkow letter briefly addresses two other disagreements with the state. The Saints have had "significant disputes" about Superdome staffing costs that the state has put on the team for home games. The letter says the Saints are willing to put off resolution of that $1 million issue. The two sides are expected to go to arbitration to settle the dispute, Fielkow said. The Saints have extended the deadline for entering that arbitration from June 30 until September.

Also, the Saints say the state owes the team $100,000 for air-conditioning expenses at its training camp. The letter says the team is willing to postpone resolution of that issue.

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Old 06-15-2004, 01:41 PM   #2
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Saints suspend talks with state

Thats what happens when you elect a stinking two-faced lying democrat.

\"If you\'re not a liberal when you\'re 20, you have no heart,
If you\'re still a liberal when your 30, you have no brain!\"
-Winston Churchill

You know the NFL is hoping this team gets moved to L.A.

Bye Bye New Orleans. Wake me when the moving vans arrive. I want to be the 1st ex-Saint\'s fan to buy a Falcons jersey.

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Old 06-15-2004, 01:51 PM   #3
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Saints suspend talks with state

I don\'t think they\'re going anywhere. I think Benson wants his money before spending anymore time and money dealing with the State.

But if the Saints are moving, does anyone want to buy a website?
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Old 06-15-2004, 02:07 PM   #4
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Saints suspend talks with state

Bye Bye New Orleans. Wake me when the moving vans arrive. I want to be the 1st ex-Saint\'s fan to buy a Falcons jersey.
C\'mon, Danno. Falcon\'s?!? Naw, man. At least go with the Texans or the Titans.

I\'d rather be put down like Ole Yeller than become a Falcons fan.
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