In 2005, New Orleans looked like it was done as a Major League city.
On August 30th, 2005, New Orleans’ future as a home for a National Football League and a National Basketball Association franchise was in doubt. Hurricane Katrina went through the area and the initial assessment was not good. Before Katrina, the NFL’s Saints owner Tom Benson wasn’t too thrilled with playing at the aging Superdome but there was a ten-year deal that was signed in 2001 that would bring him $186.5 million from Louisiana taxpayers. Because of that, Benson wasn’t going anywhere but the Superdome was damaged by Hurricane Katrina and Benson’s Saints would play the 2005 season in San Antonio. The NBA’s Hornets franchise was beginning its fourth season in the city. The team would be moved to Oklahoma City for two seasons, 2005-2006 and 2006-2007. It is far too early to say what might happen to the Saints and the NBA’s Pelicans in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Saints ownership along with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Hornets ownership are playing the waiting game.
The Saints ownership remained in New Orleans but it was touch and go in 2005. Benson would sue Louisiana because he was only getting a two-ninths share of the 2005 state payment since Benson’s team played just two home pre-season games in New Orleans because of the hurricane. San Antonio and Texas elected officials wanted Benson to move to the Texas city. NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue ended the discussions of the Benson Saints going elsewhere by saying the team was going back to New Orleans once the stadium was safe. The Superdome was renovated and he stayed in New Orleans. Benson would go on and buy the NBA’s Hornets. Benson took over control of the team in 2012 more than a year after the NBA seized control of the team. It’s assessment time again in New Orleans.
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