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saintswhodi 05-26-2005 08:52 AM

Tagliabue to call Benson and Blanco

Tagliabue plans to intervene in talks with Benson, Blanco
Haslett rips Dome, calls it 'poor facility'
Thursday, May 26, 2005
By Josh Peter and
Robert Travis Scott
Staff writers

With the Saints and the state stalled regarding Superdome lease talks, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue on Wednesday said he plans talk to Saints owner Tom Benson in the next couple of days and then Gov. Kathleen Blanco "and see if they can get back on track."

Benson called off negotiations April 27 after months of talks failed to result in a long-term lease. Benson and Blanco have said they want to reach an accord that would keep the Saints in New Orleans at least through 2020. The current deal expires after the 2010 season, and the Saints have a 90-day window after this season in which they can break the contract and potentially relocate to another city.

"I think I'm concerned any time negotiations break down, which seems to be the case," Tagliabue said at the NFL owners' spring meeting in Washington. "I'm expecting to talk to Tom in the next couple of days about his sense of where they are."

Tim Coulon, who's serving as Blanco's chief negotiator in talks with the Saints, said he thinks the governor would welcome Tagliabue's call.

"I'm sure the governor would look favorably upon that," he said. "The ball's been in Mr. Benson's court for some time now."

A $174 million Superdome renovation was at the center of talks. Benson always has preferred a new stadium as part of a new deal, but had said he was willing to consider an overhaul of the Superdome.

But Benson said Tuesday that a renovation doesn't solve the stadium issue long-term. Pouring millions into the third-oldest stadium in the NFL is a "halfway job" that's "not going to resolve anything,"

Blanco, speaking Wednesday in Baton Rouge, disagrees.

"So many people still value the Superdome. We think it's a terrific facility," she said. "With a significant facelift, I think it would serve him and us for many years to come."

Benson also reiterated that he would not return to the negotiating table until next year, and is not planning to take the team out of New Orleans.

"He's always told me he wants to stay in Louisiana," Blanco said. "I'm glad that he's made that commitment."

HASLETT, LOOMIS PLEASED WITH COMMENTS: Saints coach Jim Haslett and General Manager Mickey Loomis said Wednesday they were not surprised by Benson's statements that he has no desire to leave New Orleans.

But they were nonetheless pleased.

"I thought what he said was great. I think the fans can take some comfort from that," Loomis said. "But it's no surprise to me. It's the same thing he's been saying within the building for a long time. But, obviously, I think he presented it very well, and I think it's been received as it was intended."

Said Haslett: "I kind of knew that's how he felt all along. I said before that I know Mr. Benson doesn't want to leave the city. He just wants to get a fair deal done. And just from my standpoint, the Dome is inadequate. It's a poor facility, the locker rooms, the seating, just the sight lines themselves and the boxes. So I can understand what the Saints are trying to get done."

Haslett said he tries not to get involved in such matters and that as a coach, all he needs to worry about is that a stadium "has got a field."

But Haslett said he is "in awe of some of the stadiums" he sees on the road.

"When you go to Carolina, it really kind of startles you," Haslett said of the Panthers' nine-year-old Bank of America Stadium. "That stadium's been there (nine) years, and still when I go down there, I'm just amazed at the things that they have in it. So I think it would be great for the city, great for the fans, just everyone involved in this organization."

As for Benson's statement that he doesn't plan on talking with the state until "February, after we win the Super Bowl," Haslett said, "God bless him. I hope he can talk a lot in February."
Maybe he does wanna help the team stay here. They have to want the Superbowl to come to New Orleans still. And Jim Haslett poo-pooing the dome? Good thing he won't have to play in it much longer. :wink:

4saintspirit 05-26-2005 10:05 AM

I think Benson does want to stay in New Orleans -- What really steamed me was Haslett's comments -- talk about the party line -- gee -- the locker room is not up to snuff -- -well EXCUSE MEEEEEE --

ScottyRo 05-26-2005 12:14 PM


When you go to Carolina, it really kind of startles you," Haslett said of the Panthers' nine-year-old Bank of America Stadium. "That stadium's been there (nine) years, and still when I go down there, I'm just amazed at the things that they have in it.
What things are in it that are so amazing? Seriously, what we as fans need is information if we are to understand the situation. All we ever get from anyone from the Saints org are these generalities that really tell us nothing.

Is it "sight lines"? First of all, what the heck is a sight line? Second, how would he know since chances are he's never been in the seats of Panthers' stadium anyway. If it's locker rooms, then what else can you need in there? It's a place to change and get ready for the game. How high tech does it need to be.

The Saints' PR is going down in flames. To me, this is how they can get people on their side. Give us the info and stop seeming so evasive.

WhoDat 05-26-2005 02:00 PM

I'll say this - I've seen games in the brand-spanking-new Soldier Field, and you know what, it's cleaner and newer, they have big screens here, or more bathrooms there, but bottom line, when I'm in my seat watching the game with a hotdog and a beer, there is no freaking difference. None. A stadium seat is a stadium seat.

Don't believe me? Just ask the thousands of fans who have sold out Wrigley Field every year for the last century. There isn't an older stadium around than Wrigley, and there probably isn't a better place to see a sporting event, IMO. Sure, the Dome could use a facelift, I won't argue that. But let's not make this the difference b/w Jonesboro, LA and New York City - which is about what it is being made into.

Whatever. It's good to see Tagliabue steping in. Last time he did that Benson got smacked a little bit and a deal was done. Of course, it was a terrible deal for the State and Benson moaned two years later, but it got done.

Tobias-Reiper 05-26-2005 02:16 PM

..funny... of all the stadiums I have gone to, including BoA, FedEx, even Camden Yards, I have always thought that the Dome gives the better view of the game due to how sloped the seats are...

Camden Yards is beautiful, sure, but you are there to watch the game. not admire the architecture..

... and FedEx, boy what a piece of carp... and expensive... it's like they have crews of guys going through your pockets with a Dyson...

mayoj 05-26-2005 02:23 PM

keeping in line with the whole money thing, i think the big difference is the amenities to the high rolers in the suites. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ but if the distribution of profits from luxury suites idea passes that wont matter. how much do the players really suffer from the "antiquated" superdome?

i totally agree with whodat's wrigley field analogy and that's what gets me about all of this superdome talk. to me the superdome is a part of history, proud history; its a landmark of new orleans having had teams from high school, college and pro play there. that means a lot to the fans and the spirit of the team. how has no one involved addressed this???

also, the only plus mentioned for a new stadium has been getting a superbowl but we havent had the most superbowls out of any city bc of our stadium. its been bc of the spirit and life of our city (and the sex, drugs, alcohol). to me part of that is in the superdome and in the fans.


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