Field of Schemes
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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 "tough sell" in the cash-strapped state legislature, according to several legislators. The legislative session, which convened last Monday, is set to conclude on June 25.


One thing that troubles me about the renovations is that two years ago, the Saints could only sell 100 out of 137 luxury suites. With the new renovations, they plan on adding 16 more by moving the press box to another level.

Good Luck selling this one to the legislature.

Posted by Roberto on May 3, 2009 06:50 PM

Great website and filled with great information. i need some help. i am fighting the battle in the San Jose area over this madness dealing with the A's stadium. My blog is San Jose Sketches by Boz. I have to make it cute because as you know there are some pro subsidized stadium blogs here that go after people like a rabid poodle and my ankles do not need the bite marks.

Posted by W, Collins on May 3, 2009 09:17 PM


Posted by W, Collins on May 3, 2009 10:56 PM

I would be shocked if this deal does not go through. It would mean that Louisiana will be keeping the Saints, and there would be a decent chance that New Orleans will get a Super Bowl in the near future, which should go a long way to paying for the changes.
Assuming the Saints are off the relocation danger list, the teams to watch will be the Vikings, Chargers, Jaguars, and last, but certainly not least, the Raiders.

Posted by Januz on May 4, 2009 08:35 AM

"there would be a decent chance that New Orleans will get a Super Bowl in the near future, which should go a long way to paying for the changes"

Phil Porter would disagree with you:

Posted by Neil on May 4, 2009 08:52 AM

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