June 25, 2002

Saints, State Finally Sign Contract

Saints owner Tom Benson has finally put ink to paper on an agreement he's been pushing for over a year. Benson and Louisiana Governor Mike Foster officially signed a lease agreement for the next ten years between the state and the team.

The provision calls for a new lease for the Saints on the Louisiana Superdome ending after the 2010 football season. The Saints have a $75 million buyout option by March 31, 2006. Also in the package are agreements to give the Saints financial incentives. The Saints can also begin construction of a new $9 million indoor practice facility on the grounds of their headquarters in Metairie.

The Saints and the new Arena Football league franchise, also owned by Tom Benson and run by general manager Mickey Loomis, will use the $9 million indoor field. The New Orleans Voodoo of the AFL will play its games in the New Orleans Arena starting in February of 2003.

The agreement was actually reached in principle one calendar year ago. It has had some minor changes, including statements regarding the practice facility, but has remained the same. The agreement also calls to a committee of over 50 local business political figures to analyze the possibilities of a new stadium in New Orleans. That committee will report to the two parties in January of 2003.

The two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding last September after weeks of sometimes troubled negotiations that set a July 6, 2002 deadline for the contract to be signed.

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