In an "open letter" released by the team Wednesday, Benson said he expects the state to honor the existing 10-year $186 million package that guarantees certain dollar amounts to the team, including a $15 million payment that is due by July 5. The state borrowed $8 million to make the payment last year, and officials say they are facing a similar shortfall this year....The man wants nothing less than corporate welfare, which is the open goal of the NFL today. These franchises are no longer businesses selling a commodity, sports. They are only the means by which their owners, the new century's new robber barons, can bleed an economy dry.
The current deal, signed by Gov. Mike Foster, runs through 2011. But the team can exercise an "out clause" after this season by repaying what it has received since 2002. The state can opt out of the agreement after the 2008 season, without paying a penalty. In both cases, the team would be free to move or to negotiate a new contract.
In talks that began in January, the state has proposed a $168 million Superdome renovation with additional premium seating and other options that Louisiana officials said would help the team earn more money without taxpayer subsidies. In exchange, the state wanted the team to contribute $40 million to the stadium overhaul and to give up the guaranteed payments. Benson agreed to contribute some to the construction but maintained that the state must continue the direct subsidies. Talks stalled with that issue as a primary sticking point.
Some lawmakers, who had expected to debate the Saints deal during the legislative session that began Monday, said they were surprised by the sudden turn of events.
"I'm a little shocked that there was no happy medium and no compromise," said state Rep. Karen Carter, D-New Orleans, who represents the district around the Superdome. "I hope we don't have to start all over again."
Carter said she respects Benson's business decision but is concerned that her colleagues in the Legislature will look upon it unfavorably. "There are some who are going to assume Benson was not willing to come to a compromise," Carter said. (Italics mine.)
Duh. Maybe they'll see it for what is. I'm sure the Governor does by now.