The gift that keeps giving.
One day some Louisiana bureaucrat is going to do some math and figure out just how much money the state has sunk into keeping the National Football League’s New Orleans Saints in the Superdome. The quick math suggests that more than a billion dollars in subsidies to keep the stadium viable for an NFL owner has been spent. There is a new proposal that is being worked on by Louisiana elected officials and Saints ownership that calls for $450 million worth of renovations at the facility that has seen quite a few renovations with $300 million to be picked up by the taxpayers. Louisiana taxpayers have paid cash to keep the late Saints owner Tom Benson happy and now they will be helping Benson’s heirs with the business. The state will argue that 10 to 12 Saints games along with an occasional Super Bowl, and an occasional NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Final Four and the annual Sugar Bowl are well worth the investment. Visitors spend money but most of that money goes into the event organizers hands not left in the community.
In 2001, Louisiana promised Benson $186.5 million between 2002 and 2010 as a “thank you” for not taking his business elsewhere, despite Benson’s existing long-term lease to use the Superdome. Benson threatened to move his business to San Antonio following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He also wanted his 2005 subsidy money despite New Orleans shutting down because of Hurricane Katrina which forced the team to go to San Antonio for the season. An estimated $375 million was spent on repairing the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina to get it Benson-ready. Another $40 million was invested in 2016 for video scoreboards. There are also tax breaks and tax incentives. Without the handouts, New Orleans would not have an NFL team.