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saintswhodi 06-27-2005 03:23 PM

Saints to borrower money for July 5th payment

State continues to struggles to pay SaintsAssociated Pres

BATON ROUGE, La. -- The state will again borrow the cash needed to make its annual payment to the New Orleans Saints, thanks to a loan arrangement approved Monday, though it's unclear how that borrowing will be repaid or how the state will meet its future obligations to the NFL team.

The state has struggled to pay the Saints for the past few years and has yet to repay the cash it borrowed from an economic development fund last year to make its payment. This time, the state will borrow $10.5 million through a financing mechanism it hasn't used for at least a decade.

Members of the State Bond Commission, which approved the plan Monday, said there were few options available since the Legislature adjourned last week without approving a new tax source for the Saints payment or setting aside dollars in the state's budget to make the latest payment, due July 5.

"We have an obligation that we have to live up to. Some of us may not agree that it's the best contract, but it's a contract we have to live up to. The full faith and credit of the state is behind it," said Sen. Diana Bajoie, D-New Orleans.

The state -- through the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District which oversees the operation of the Superdome -- will borrow the cash through the sale of a "revenue anticipation note," which assumes that money generated down the line will cover the repayment of the loan.

The head of the LSED and members of the Bond Commission aren't sure where the dollars will come from to repay this loan, however. The Bond Commission's staff, which normally suggests whether items on the agenda should be approved or rejected, didn't make a recommendation on the Saints payment loan, noting that the current money streams available to the LSED aren't sufficient to repay the borrowing.

But the New Orleans area legislators on the money panel said the loan arrangement was preferable to defaulting on the state's agreement with the Saints and allowing them to leave penalty-free. Andy Kopplin, Gov. Kathleen Blanco's chief of staff who sits on the Bond Commission, said the governor backed the plan as a short-term remedy until a permanent solution could be developed.

Sen. Francis Heitmeier, D-New Orleans, said defaulting on the deal would harm the state's economic development initiatives and indicate Louisiana doesn't honor its contracts.

"What we did today wasn't pretty," said Treasurer John Kennedy, head of the Bond Commission. "If you look strictly at the numbers, you probably wouldn't do this, but there's a story beyond the numbers."

The annual payments to the Saints are part of a 10-year, $186 million agreement negotiated by Gov. Mike Foster's administration in 2001. A $15 million payment is due to the NFL team on July 5, and the state was estimated to be about $9 million short because the revenue sources designed to cover that payment -- particularly the New Orleans area hotel/motel tax -- aren't bringing in as much cash as was projected.

The dollars from the loan also will help the LSED pay for insurance costs and other items that haven't been paid while the Superdome commission struggles to make the Saints payments, according to Tim Coulon, head of the LSED.

The debt from the payments to the Saints is compounding. The LSED owes the state economic development fund from which it borrowed last year and must repay this newest loan by Jan. 1, 2007. And the annual payments due to the Saints are scheduled to grow to $20 million next year and to $23.5 million a couple of years later.

The Legislature approved a plan that would put the NFL team in line for some of the tax money generated when slot machines start operating at the New Orleans Fair Grounds in 2007 and thereafter, but officials say that won't bring in enough cash to cover the Saints payments and the money borrowed for them.

"We need a significant amount of money over the long haul," said Doug Thornton, an executive for the company that manages the Superdome, New Orleans Arena and other facilities in the state.

The governor said she still hopes to ultimately renegotiate the deal, but Saints owner Tom Benson has cut off negotiations until after the 2005 football season when the Saints have their first opportunity to negate the current deal with an $81 million payment to the state. The state can opt out of the deal after the 2007 season.

Wow, if only uncle Tom was as loyal to his deals as Senator Diana Bajoie

"We have an obligation that we have to live up to. Some of us may not agree that it's the best contract, but it's a contract we have to live up to. The full faith and credit of the state is behind it," said Sen. Diana Bajoie, D-New Orleans.

Where's all those who blame the democrats now?

saintswhodi 06-27-2005 04:06 PM

Peter King weights in"


4. I think I've softened my stance that the Saints will move to L.A. They might stay in New Orleans now, even if the Louisiana legislature doesn't come up with the $15 million it must commit to the team by July 15. Ex-Saints GM Bill Kuharich tells me that owner Tom Benson won't move the team under any circumstances. Benson told him a few years ago this wasn't a money thing. Now we'll see if it is or it isn't.

WhoDat 06-27-2005 07:11 PM

good to see, but I have a feeling this is about money to Benson. He better pray that the court of appeals overturns the Ohio State court ruling requiring the NFL to disclose the earnings of its franchises over the last 20 years. Otherwise, Tommy might be in some trouble in LA.

Euphoria 06-27-2005 07:41 PM

This is what I have been saying all along... the Saints aren't going anyweres. Lets not forget Benson is a buisnessman... sure he wants to make a buck, ifyou ran a buisness it had better make money or you'll end up losing that buisness duh.

spkb25 06-28-2005 06:57 PM

every buisness has one purpose. every buisnessman has one purpose. to hate anyone because they want to make money to me seems ridiculous. we all want to make money and if we were in bensons place our goal and our goal alone would be to get the best deal we could, for ourselves. i dont think benson is going anywhere. i think he likes where he is and i think he likes owning the saints. i also think he plans on keeping it in the fam as he has said. they will reach a deal that will help both. i am pretty sure about that. by the way when we are all so eager to criticize benson has anyone asked about all the money the law makers have. theese people arent poor. matter of fact i can't think of one poor person that has been in polit.

WhoDat 06-29-2005 08:50 AM

spkb25 - I agree with the proposition that businessmen are in business to make money. That's not an argument. But I take exception to the idea that money is their only goal, and that it trumps everything else unconditionally.

I think more and more people see business as a "member of a community." Social responsibility in the business world is becoming a huge topic, especially after Enron, Worldcom, Anderson, etc. Just look at the advertising campaigns that many of the larger corporations are employing these days. GM, GE, BP/Amoco, Netzero, Monster, AOL, Cingular, Sprint, etc. all stress community and individual values.

I can say with complete conviction that, knowing what I know about the State/Saints dealings now, I would not pursue the course of action Benson is taking now in the same fashion. I might seek out similar results, but I would be more willing to help. I'm all for businesses being allowed to make as much money as humanly possible. But there's an inherent assumption in that statement - the BUSINESS is going to do something to make the money. Simply being present in a place doesn't entitle them to free money, IMO.

Yes, yes I know that the Saints generate money for the State. Here's a news flash - so does EVERY OTHER profitable business in the State. Do you favor giving money back to them? If my family's company, based in New Orleans, generates $20 million a year in tax revenue for the State, would you support a bill in the legislature to pay my family's company $10 million a year? It employs about as many people as the Saints. It's a healthcare organization, arguably far more important to a community than a sports franchise. But no one in the state would support that. Why? B/c the assumption is, that by doing business and making money, you're going to have to be taxed. Everyone knows that... excepct for Tom Benson, and apparently, the NFL - which feels that it would be given huge amounts of money just for its presence in a place, no matter how much that hurts the place. I disagree with that proposition, and I think a lot more people are agreeing with this stance than ever before.

spkb25 06-30-2005 08:00 AM

actually i think you made some very good points whodat. you are exactly right in saying that a buisness has to be aware of the community. on the point of the company your fam. owns, im the wrong person to ask if they should get a tax break. my answer would always be yes. some of the programs our government have are useless and are being outright abused. some of the jobs in the governement are for overpaid lazy people. the law makers refuse to cut any programs. there is a program ran by the state of virginia that help people who flee war torn countries. from a human rights stand point that is wonderful. what in hell is everyone being taxed money to pay for the program. that should be something you donate to. that is not in any way the responsibility of our government. neither is a host of other stuff.
i don't want to get to much into the political thing but i did like your post whodat. you had some good points in it.

blackwidows 06-30-2005 11:35 AM

WHO CARES SOAP OPERA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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