Remember you heard it here first. The rumor is spreading that owner Tom Benson has agreed to sell the Saints to an investment group in L.A. (that’s Los Angeles, not Louisiana). Benson was said to be livid about stories that he used state money, intended to subsidize the team, to subsidize his lavish lifestyle instead. The purchase of particular interest was Benson’s new 122-foot yacht, valued between $12 million and $20 million.
T-P reports that records show that “Benson Football, which three years ago signed a landmark deal with the state that promises the Saints $186.5 million in inducements over 10 years, owns what was ranked as the 190th largest yacht in America when it was completed in 2002. It’s unclear who paid for the boat…”
The team’s official attempt at misdirection came from spokesman Greg Bensel, who released a written statement that: “The real issue before us is not what Mr. Benson can afford, but whether the Saints will remain in New Orleans and be economically successful in this small NFL market against teams from much larger cities, such as the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots who are playing in Super Bowl XXXIX.”
“The issue is whether the Saints will continue to have sufficient stadium revenues to remain competitive on the field within the NFL system and in a very tough NFL environment where 20 new or vastly renovated stadiums have been built through public-private partnerships in the last 13 years,” he said.
A few weeks ago, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco said the team should open its financial books to scrutiny as team and state officials try to negotiate a long-term agreement to keep the Saints in the city. The Saints have long refused to do that or discuss the team’s profits. Blanco was reported to be “very surprised” to learn that Benson Football, controlling partner of New Orleans’ NFL franchise, owns a yacht, according to a spokeswoman.
Did he say remain competitive? Let us know what you think about these developments.Powered by Sidelines