Louisiana is about to subsidize the Saints for the fifth time in 17 years, because Louisiana

The state of Louisiana approved a $400,000 diagnostic architectural survey of the Superdome last week, and if that sounds trivial, it’s not: Apparently it’s the first step toward yet another renovation of the New Orleans Saints‘ home stadium on the state’s dime. Or rather, five billion dimes:

The $422,000 study, which was approved last May, proposed several options to modernize the Superdome and increase revenue streams for its anchor tenant, the New Orleans Saints. Among them: removal of the interior pedestrian ramps; installation of glazed windows to some parts of the Dome’s existing sides; installation of field-level bunker suites; and improving parts of the terrace seating.

Depending on the scope, the price tag for the potential renovation ranges from $150 million to $500 million.

If you’ve lost track of how many renovations of the Superdome this makes, I put together a handy scorecard last year:

$134 million to build it in the first place in 1975, then $54 million for emergency repairs after Hurricane Katrina, then $376 million in non-emergency repairs after that, including replacing the exterior and redoing the entire lower bowl of the stadium with new seating and club space. Along the way, the state paid Saints owner Tom Benson $186 million to keep the team in town through 2011, then another $392 million to keep the team in town through 2025.

So if Louisiana approves the full $500 million upgrade, that’ll be $1.508 billion it’s given to the Saints owners (in either renovation costs or straight-up cash) over the past 18 years, or $1.642 billion if you count building the dome in the first place. (That’s all nominal dollars; if you want to figure out the total value in 2018 dollars, go for it, there are plenty of calculators for that sort of thing online.) All in order to “increase revenue streams” for the Saints, without which they would presumably move to some other city that’s willing to give them a billion and a half dollars? Leave it to Tom Benson (and now his heirs): In a city of grifters, he may have come up with the most lucrative grift of all time.


13 comments on “Louisiana is about to subsidize the Saints for the fifth time in 17 years, because Louisiana

  1. This may sound cold but next time that city gets flooded screw em

    If giving away money that kind of money to an nfl team is that important you don’t any outside help

    You have more than enough it seems

    • I actually don’t think the absolutely massive federal transfers that go to the State LA both for hurricane relief, and for a bunch of other more mundane things are totally unrelated to this. When you are raking in a billion or more in federal subsidy a year, splurges like this are a lot more possible. Hell during the Katrina rebuild there was a $950M consulting contract related to one of the grants LA got.

    • I understand the outrage, Dan, but how could the federal gov’t do less for them than it did in the aftermath of Katrina?

      It’s very difficult to get relief/aid to people after natural disasters in any event, but it’s my view that the government failed the people of New Orleans terribly. Even by it’s own pretty low standards, the gov’t failed to clear the bar.

  2. All the same to me

    City residents should be up in arms but hey we got our nfl team and stadium

    Warped priorities

    And considering it is nawleans and la

    That state is right up there with il and nj for corruption

    Sorry don’t come asking for help next time

  3. Didn’t Benson get rent for office space he rented to the City. parish (county) or state for buildings he owned in New Orleans? Space that wasn’t really needed to be rented.

    This takes on a new meaning of New Orleans nickname THE BIG EASY

    • Only if the NFL wants to pay 100% of stadium costs.

      Still unanswered if Chargers maintained geographic rights.

      • Good try Stevie. San Diego wanted the Raiders, the city was ready to give funding to a new venue in the event of Las Vegas falling….

        San Diego wants and will get a new team. Saints? Titans?

        Either way- San Diego will get something greater. after dumping the Bolts on the worst city in sports.

        • “San Diego wanted the Raiders, the city was ready to give funding to a new venue in the event of Las Vegas falling…”

          What’s your evidence for that? The mayor may have wanted to do this, but there’s no sign that he could have gotten significant public money approved.

        • There is little doubt that one day the NFL will return to San Diego ( the primary reason they left was ownership was the worst ( this side of James Dolan)). I strongly suspect that the reason why Louisiana has and ( likely) will continue to give Corporate Welfare to the Saints is to make sure they are not the team moving ( especially after Tom Benson’s death)?

    • http://www.fieldofschemes.com/2014/09/05/7776/saints-owner-gets-a-statue-for-keeping-team-in-town-after-extorting-money-not-to-leave/

      Only insofar as that money is fungible…