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Thread: Saints Could End Up In L.A.

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    Maple SERP savafan's Avatar
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    Saints Could End Up In L.A.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...602322_pf.html

    NEW ORLEANS, Oct. 26 -- The NFL will consider relocating the New Orleans Saints to Los Angeles if New Orleans is unable to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, three sources familiar with the league's deliberations on the matter said.

    The NFL plans to return the Saints to New Orleans if the city demonstrates it can still support the team, the officials said. But they said the league is concerned that the area will not be able to fully bounce back and is thus open to the possibility of having the Saints play in San Antonio next season and then move permanently to Los Angeles.

    The Saints have been based in San Antonio since being displaced by the hurricane in August, but the league has no interest in that city as a permanent home for the club, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because no firm decisions have been made and the deliberations are at a sensitive stage. The NFL has been actively seeking to return to Los Angeles, the second-largest television market in the country, which has not had a franchise since the Raiders left for Oakland after the 1994 season.

    "We're going to try to ride out the rest of this year the best way we can," a source involved in the discussions said. "They could very well spend another year in San Antonio. If you're looking at it long-term, L.A. is a no-brainer. But I also think we need to give New Orleans and Louisiana a shot. We have absolutely no obligation to San Antonio. None."

    A decision to move the Saints would be a major blow to civic pride and morale in New Orleans as it seeks to rebuild. Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D) plans to make the state's case for keeping the franchise in the city this weekend when she meets with NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

    The Saints have played two home games at the Alamodome in San Antonio and have a third scheduled to be played there in December. The Saints are playing four home games in Baton Rouge, La., beginning Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

    The club's usual home stadium, the Louisiana Superdome, was damaged by Katrina and its subsequent use as a shelter for people displaced by the hurricane, but officials said the building remains structurally sound and they have begun repairing it. The repairs will cost an estimated $125 million to $200 million and could be completed as soon as mid-October next year, Superdome officials said. They added that they are debating whether to begin previously planned improvements that would cost an additional $175 million.

    Superdome officials said they expect all, or practically all, of the cost of repairing the building to be covered by insurance money and federal funds. But the state would have to come up with a different means to fund any improvements. State officials are hopeful that the Saints could split their home schedule between LSU's Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge and the Superdome next season.

    Blanco plans to meet this weekend with Tagliabue and Saints owner Tom Benson when all three are in Baton Rouge for the Saints-Dolphins game. State leaders hope that Tagliabue will convince NFL team owners, who must approve any franchise relocation by a three-fourths margin, that the league has a moral obligation to keep the club in New Orleans.

    "I don't think they want the impression that we go through the worst disaster in the nation's history, and the Saints cut and run because the owner wanted to move," said Steve Scalise, a Republican member of the state legislature who is heavily involved in the city's rebuilding efforts. "I think that we will be able to keep the team here for now, and then we need to rebuild and recover. And hopefully as that happens, we will be capable of supporting an NFL franchise."

    Even before Katrina hit, there were reports that Benson was interested in moving the team after this season to San Antonio, where he has strong business ties, or Los Angeles or Albuquerque. Benson said at an owners' meeting last summer that he had received a $1 billion offer for the franchise from potential buyers he refused to name. He has since alternated between saying he had no intention of leaving New Orleans and saying he would consider all options. He said the club needed a new stadium, not a refurbished Superdome, to be competitive.

    There were reports that the Saints had sold only about 25,000 season tickets at the Superdome this season.

    The other major professional team in town, the NBA's Hornets, will play 35 home games in Oklahoma City and six in Baton Rouge this season. Hornets owner George Shinn told the Times-Picayune newspaper he hopes to play three regular season games in March at New Orleans Arena, which is expected to be ready for occupancy by then. The arena was flooded and has structural damage.

    One NFL team owner, who is a member of an owners advisory panel appointed by Tagliabue to look into the Saints issue, said "the league is trying to do the right thing" and keep the franchise in New Orleans but might not be able to do so because the city "has terrible troubles."

    "I can't imagine spending that kind of money on the stadium when everything else needs to be fixed," said the owner, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    Tagliabue said last month that the league wanted to participate in the discussions about the rebuilding of New Orleans and be a part of the city's rebirth but that it was premature to speculate about the Saints' future when the entire Gulf Coast region was trying to recover from the hurricane. It's possible that Tagliabue will address the Saints' situation publicly this weekend. The matter was to be discussed at an owners' meeting Wednesday and Thursday in Kansas City, Mo., but the meeting was postponed after the death of Giants owner Wellington Mara on Tuesday.

    The Saints have already taken steps to attempt to void their lease at their training facility. Officials said they have until Nov. 27 to exercise a clause in their Superdome lease that enables them to void the lease and leave New Orleans without having to repay the state $81 million in subsidies if the Superdome is unusable. State officials said they would contest any attempt by the Saints to exercise that clause.

    Benson issued a written statement last week saying that he had made no decisions about the future of the team beyond this season. A Saints spokesman said Wednesday that the team had no further comment about its future.

    Shapiro reported from Washington.
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    Member smith288's Avatar
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    Re: Saints Could End Up In L.A.

    Is there a particular reason LA hasnt been able to hold onto an NFL team?

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    Re: Saints Could End Up In L.A.

    Please! No NFL in LA! We've been just fine since the Rams moved. No blackouts, more interesting games. Everything is perfect.

    We don't need no stinking NFL team!

    Rem

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    Re: Saints Could End Up In L.A.

    I think Benson has long awaited a good excuse to move the Saints and now he has gotten it in the form of a hurricane. IMO he will move them to LA and the NFL will expand back to New Orleans (and San Antonio) so they won't look like they have abandoned the city. In the long run everyone will be happy.
    Reds Fan Since 1971

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    Re: Saints Could End Up In L.A.

    Quote Originally Posted by smith288
    Is there a particular reason LA hasnt been able to hold onto an NFL team?
    Stadium Issues.

    They "stole" the Rams from Cleveland and the Raiders from Oakland only to get screwed themselves.

    If they get a team I suggest the "Dons" the AAFC team that averaged the worst attendance in the league in the late 40's.

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    Please come again pedro's Avatar
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    Re: Saints Could End Up In L.A.

    If the do move the team there they should call them the "Stains"
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    This one's for you Edd Heath's Avatar
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    Re: Saints Could End Up In L.A.

    Quote Originally Posted by cumberlandreds
    I think Benson has long awaited a good excuse to move the Saints and now he has gotten it in the form of a hurricane. IMO he will move them to LA and the NFL will expand back to New Orleans (and San Antonio) so they won't look like they have abandoned the city. In the long run everyone will be happy.

    Please SandyD - no disrespect to you here on NO.

    32 teams in the NFL is fine - it is a nice number to deal with 8-4 team divisions. Makes scheduling easier.

    As popular as the NFL is - there are issues in places like Jacksonville & Oakland that need dealt with before the NFL moves to San Antonio (full time) & NO if that is the direction the league is going to turn.
    Some people play baseball. Baseball plays Jay Bruce.

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    This one's for you Edd Heath's Avatar
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    Re: Saints Could End Up In L.A.

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou
    Stadium Issues.

    They "stole" the Rams from Cleveland and the Raiders from Oakland only to get screwed themselves.

    If they get a team I suggest the "Dons" the AAFC team that averaged the worst attendance in the league in the late 40's.

    Yet on three separate occasions - the Dons' averaged 90,000+ in the Coliseum for games against the Browns & 49ers in the late 40's.
    Some people play baseball. Baseball plays Jay Bruce.

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    Re: Saints Could End Up In L.A.

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou
    Stadium Issues.
    The 'stadium issues' idea is accurate if you're referring to the fact that, in general, the folks in LA (Metro area) want the NFL to pony up for it's own stadium instead of getting a handout from the public to further enrich their pockets. If they are going to have caviar, let them pay for it. (Hrumph!)

    Rem

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    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Saints Could End Up In L.A.

    Quote Originally Posted by remdog
    The 'stadium issues' idea is accurate if you're referring to the fact that, in general, the folks in LA (Metro area) want the NFL to pony up for it's own stadium instead of getting a handout from the public to further enrich their pockets. If they are going to have caviar, let them pay for it. (Hrumph!)

    Rem
    Yep, it also doesn't help that the Angels and the Dodgers own their own stadiums, plus the size of the state makes it hard to channel anything other than local goverment money into the project, folks in Reading and Yreka don't give a hoot if there is a team in LA or not.

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    Re: Saints Could End Up In L.A.

    From what I've been reading locally, I figure the only question about the Saints ending up in Los Angeles is whether it will happen in 2006 or 2007. Tagliabue has stiff-armed the notion of the team relocating to San Antonio at every turn for anything more than the 3 games already scheduled. And thanks to economics (much less disposable income among the locals) and logistics (not enough hotel rooms for out-of-towners), the Baton Rouge games seem destined to be played before sparse crowds.

    I doubt the NFL will put up with a full season of half-empty, so L.A. had better put out the welcome mat for SoCal's next new team.

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    CELEBRATION TIME RBA's Avatar
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    Re: Saints Could End Up In L.A.

    That's just it. 65,000 in a 100,000 seat stadium, looks like the fans aren't showing up.

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    This one's for you Edd Heath's Avatar
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    Re: Saints Could End Up In L.A.

    Quote Originally Posted by RedBloodedAmerican
    That's just it. 65,000 in a 100,000 seat stadium, looks like the fans aren't showing up.

    Do what they do in Jacksonville --- put curtain's over seats in the upper reaches of the bowl using team logos and don't sell those seats, making the number easier to reach for blackout purposes.
    Some people play baseball. Baseball plays Jay Bruce.

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    Maple SERP savafan's Avatar
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    Re: Saints Could End Up In L.A.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=2208747

    BATON ROUGE, La. -- 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.

    NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said he was committed to keeping the team in New Orleans after meeting with team owner Tom Benson, Gov. Kathleen Blanco and other officials.

    "The Saints are Louisiana's team and have been since the late '60s when my predecessor Pete Rozelle welcomed them to the league as New Orleans' team and Louisiana's team," Tagliabue said. "Our focus continues to be on having the Saints in Louisiana."

    Tagliabue dismissed rumors that the Saints were headed to Los Angeles or elsewhere.

    "I think the reports this week about the longterm landing spot being Los Angeles were nonsensical," Tagliabue said. "L.A. has been the landing spot for the Indianapolis Colts, the Arizona Cardinals, the Seattle Seahawks, the Minnesota Vikings and any other number of teams. And the last time I looked, they were all operating in their communities and L.A. is off the radar screen."

    The Saints moved operations to San Antonio after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city and the Louisiana Superdome. San Antonio mayor Phil Hardberger has lobbied hard to keep the Saints there and believes Benson wants to stay in the city as well.

    Tagliabue pointed out that under NFL guidelines, Benson is prohibited from talking about moving his team during the season. Still, Benson has made some moves that appear to back up Hardberger's contention and has come under fire from Saints fans.

    Benson's attorneys sent a letter to state and federal officials Oct. 11, claiming that damages to the team's training facility while it was used by federal agencies following the hurricane "effectively terminated" the club's lease for the building. State officials toured the building this week and responded in a letter Friday to Benson that the facility suffered minimal damage and is ready to use.

    Tagliabue appointed eight team owners to a New Orleans Advisory Committee, which is to help make decisions about the franchise's future. He also said the NFL could provide financial assistance to the Saints on a temporary basis.

    "I'm very encouraged by the messages I got," Blanco said after the meetings.

    The Superdome, where the Saints normally play their home games, had millions of dollars in damage from the hurricane and during its use as an emergency shelter for 25,000 storm victims. Doug Thornton, regional vice president for the company that manages the Dome, said repairs are underway and the building might be available for use by mid-October 2006.

    LSU would also make Tiger Stadium available for Saints games next season, LSU chancellor Sean O'Keefe said.

    "We really are committed to being as supportive to the state as we can to work through a very, very challenging time," O'Keefe said.

    The Saints played their first "home" game this season in New York against the Giants. Since then they have played two home games in San Antonio. Sunday was the first of three games to be played in Baton Rouge on LSU's field.

    "We are also focused in a preliminary way on the 2006 season," Tagliabue said.

    He said it looks as though "interim or temporary arrangements" will be featured in the Saints' playing schedule next year. He said it is uncertain if those arrangements would be similar to this year or different.

    The big question is how New Orleans could support the Saints.

    New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin believes the city's population, which was 460,000 before the hurricane, will quickly rise to 250,000 and be back above 450,000 in three years. But many returnees face major obstacles rebuilding homes and businesses.

    "I think what we need to do is recognize that the people of this region and the businesses of this region and the governmental agencies of this region have so many priorities that rebuilding the Saints and recommitting the Saints to Louisiana is just one of those priorities," Tagliabue said.

    In a letter this month to the Saints, state officials said they are willing to discuss adding enhancements to the Superdome to help boost team profits. Although he envisioned the Saints remaining in New Orleans, Tagliabue said they needed to become more of a Louisiana or even a regional team. The state and Saints need to take a fresh look at the team's deal with Louisiana, Tagliabue said.

    Efforts to rewrite the deal worked out during the former governor's administration were called off before the season and were slated to begin again in January. Blanco wanted a new agreement that would relieve Louisiana of some of the financial burden the current arrangement carries -- including $186 million in payments over 10 years.
    My dad got to enjoy 3 Reds World Championships by the time he was my age. So far, I've only gotten to enjoy one. Step it up Redlegs!

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    RZ Chamber of Commerce Unassisted's Avatar
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    Re: Saints Could End Up In L.A.

    Attendance/Capacity and +/- at the Saints 4 "home games" thus far:

    Code:
    Giants Stadium  9/19  68,031/79,469   -11,438
    Alamodome      10/16  65,562/65,000      +562
    Tiger Stadium  10/30  61,643/79,000   -17,357
    Alamodome      10/02  58,688/65,000    -6,312


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