October 31, 2005

While the New Orleans Saints: played their first game of the season in Louisiana on Sunday, state officials scrambled to make sure it wouldn't be one of the last. Meanwhile, saints owner Tom Benson is fighting mad.

posted by justgary to football at 12:09 AM - 18 comments

This situation gets uglier and uglier. I keep thinking about the fans, who've been through enough already this year without taking their team away. Of course, Benson's coming off like a heartless carpetbagger-wannabe, and Tagliabue isn't sounding very take-charge (I suspect Pete Rozelle would have put the locals to work rebuilding the Superdome and setting up temporary facilities for the Saints to play as much of their home schedule at LSU as was humanly possible until the Superdome or some other facility was ready to go). At this point, though, even if the Saints do stay in Louisiana, I'd understand if the locals wouldn't want to give Benson another dollar of their money.

posted by chicobangs at 02:34 AM on October 31, 2005

I still don't get this. New Orleans is an absolute fucking wreck, Benson was wanting to move before and the city has no viable stadium unless it diverts cash that should go to getting essential services back online into fixing a football stadium. If this was a textile manufacturer, would people be freaking out? Why should Benson have to eat it? Are they forcing everyone else to open up in exactly the same place and fashion as they were before the hurricane?

posted by wfrazerjr at 09:14 AM on October 31, 2005

Besides, if the Saints move, New Orleans residents can finally stop walking around with paper bags over their heads.

posted by Bill Lumbergh at 09:29 AM on October 31, 2005

This hits right at the weird state of pro sports teams-- they're private businesses (except maybe for the Packers), but they're sort of halfway considered civic assets. Usually, the owners make out like bandits on this formula... when it's time to improve the infrastructure, the team's a vital part of the city, but the team's cashflow is treated like a textile manufacturer. Since the owners are usually the ones with the huige advantage, I have trouble feeling too bad for Benson here.

posted by cobra! at 09:33 AM on October 31, 2005


posted by LSU #1 at 11:02 AM on October 31, 2005

How long have you been a Saints fan? They've been the 'Aints plenty of times in the past 30 years.

posted by yerfatma at 11:12 AM on October 31, 2005

The wild card here, that stops this from being just-like-any-other-business, is the idea of civic pride. The people of Louisiana have grown to associate themselves with the Saints. It's something that people across all walks can talk about. It's a tie that binds, something to love or hate or soar with or die beside. Textile plants don't do that for a society. Sports do. (It's why SpoFi exists, too. If you're here, you feel it.) And when a catastrophe happens to a region, people could use a piece of comfort. If the Saints had made a grand gesture to ensure that they were going to stay in the region and help people feel better about living in such a hellhole, it would have been an opportunity for them to change their place in the mosaic of the area from a lovable pastime to a second (or even first) religion. Think Yankees, think Maple Leafs, think Man U, think the Cubs. You give people a sense of place, and your fanbase explodes, not just in your home region but all over the world. And those people will buy tons and tons of shit with your logo on it. I know Tom Benson doesn't need to give a damn about his customers, but italways baffles me when owner is so short-sighted that he'd walk away from such a huge upside.

posted by chicobangs at 11:29 AM on October 31, 2005

LSU put a fleur-de-lis on football helmets to recognize New Orleans. I think the symbolism represented by the Saints to the restoration of the beleaguered city is significant and should rule out a move for the immediate future.

posted by rcade at 12:59 PM on October 31, 2005

So, Mr Benson has been looking for a way out of New Orleans for some time. He, relatively recently, contractually agreed to keep the team there until 2010 and as a result received a sizable amount of money. Now that he sees greater $$ signs elesewhere, he is looking for a way to weazel out of the contract. Considering the consistantly pathetic performance of this team, I say let him go, but force him to pay a percentage of his future revenue back to the city for Katrina reconstruction. The NFL should provide assurances that an expansion team would be approved within 5 years. After Katrina reconstruction is completed, New Orleans will be a new place. We might as well add to the future hope by attaching our alliegiance to a new team that is led and owned by people that will actually yield positive results and actually CARE about the community they represent. P.S. GET RID OF HASLET !! .... better yet leave N.O. and keep him.

posted by Z-man at 01:15 PM on October 31, 2005

The people of Louisiana have grown to associate themselves with the Saints.

posted by yerfatma at 01:15 PM on October 31, 2005

yerfatma, that's exactly what I'm talking about! (Seriously!)

posted by chicobangs at 01:35 PM on October 31, 2005

Benson is a complete scumbag. The city would be better without him.

posted by steelers_fan34 at 02:09 PM on October 31, 2005

Benson could take an example from the Rooney family in Pittsburg - they care about thier community and the fans - Benson never has. The Saints have a loyal base of fans who want the team to succeed, but Benson just wants to line his pockets. He would fit right in with all of the crooked politicians in my adopted home of New Orleans.

posted by steelers_fan34 at 02:11 PM on October 31, 2005

The City of New Orleans has major issues of greater importance than the Saints. I would be irate if the city chose to spend it's money on a pro football team rather than 100% guarantee the stability of the levy currently in place. Let the Saints move and have the NFL grant the city a new team 5 years from now.

posted by Richard j Garcia at 03:25 PM on October 31, 2005

Richard, no one wants the City (or any governmental or aid organization, let alone the citizens) to spend a penny on rebuilding the Saints or their stadium. The NFL and Benson, on the other hand, would benefit immensely, both in goodwill and added revenue, from investing in redevelopment of the region now. There's an opportunity to make Saints fans out of a lot more people right now, and he's just pissing that opportunity away. And Tagliabue could force the issue with Benson if he wanted to, but I suspect he doesn't have the spine.

posted by chicobangs at 03:30 PM on October 31, 2005

believe me I would love the state politicians to actually make the levees capable of handling the major storms like we just had - the Army Corps of Engineers has tried to them to do just that for years, but as is the norm in Louisiana politics, they chose to line thier pockets and continue the tradition of corruption that has been prevalent in the state (and New Orleans) for years. My friends and I are all from St. Bernard Parish, and we all lost our homes because of the inadequate levee system. I agree the money should be spent on the rebuilding of the city and the levees, but the fans of the Saints would like to keep thier team, no matter how terrible they are. It at least gives them something to take thier minds off of the total destruction we all suffered along the Gulf Coast. enson could certain afford to help out in this effort, and show the fans he cares by not just keeping the team in New Orleans, but by donating some of the large amounts of money he has made from the city and the fans, to the relief effort. Nicholas Cage donated 1 million out of his own pocket, and he only lives in the city part time, Benson, to my knowledge, has done nothing other than shop his team around for a new home. B

posted by steelers_fan34 at 03:53 PM on October 31, 2005

Perhaps a football fan with knowledge of the occult arts could zombify the recently buried Wellington Mara to take over ownership of the Saints from Mr. Benson. It is Hallowe'en, after all...

posted by alumshubby at 04:24 PM on October 31, 2005

I'm with chicobangs. I understand priorities, but to compare the saints in new orleans to a textile plan either underestimates the saints effect on the city, or sports in general. No the saints weren't winners. Doesn't mean a lot in the big picture. Benson can do what he wants with the saints. After all, he's got to feed his family, right? As long as he sleeps well at night, and from what I can tell, he'll have no problem.

posted by justgary at 03:00 PM on November 02, 2005

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