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May 03, 2009
Can't tell the new Saints lease without a scorecard
It's been three days now since the New Orleans Saints agreed to a new 17-year lease extension on the Superdome, but I've been holding off on posting until I could actually understand the deal. Sadly, it seems too complicated for anyone to really wrap their brains around yet, with a crazy number of moving parts, including:
- The state of Louisiana would pay for $85 million in upgrades to the Superdome — which just got $210 million in renovations two years ago — with the Saints getting the revenues from the new luxury suites and such.
- In place of the $23 million a year that the state was paying the Saints under the old lease — that's right, the Saints have actually been paying negative rent — the team will now be paid on a sliding scale based on its revenues, with a cap of $6 million a year.
- The state will lease 320,000 square feet of office space from the Saints owners, the Benson family, paying $24 a square foot, about 33% over the going rate for downtown New Orleans. The total increase over the agencies' current rent is expected to be about $2.5 million a year.
- The Bensons will also buy the New Orleans Centre mall and an adjacent parking garage from the state, lease them back to the Superdome Commission, and share revenues from the facilities.
The upshot, then, is that this seems to be a better lease than the last, awful one that the state negotiated, but still potentially costly to taxpayers. In particular, that $85 million capital outlay could make the deal a "