Positive news: Owners meeting talk furthers confirmation of San Antonio being out of the mix, L.A. on backburner
Perhaps most importantly, Weiner confirms earlier reports that San Antonio is pretty much done as an NFL relocation option. Weiner writes:
"[T]he city of San Antonio has been relegated to the sidelines, having abandoned its search for an NFL (or Major League Baseball) franchise, which further limits the threat of relocation by the Yorks, Spanos, Wilf, or Saints owner Tom Benson. San Antonio and Bexar County, Texas, officials thought they were players in the stadium game until last week, when they were led to forfeit after neither NFL nor MLB officials expressed interest in the city.In other (and fewer) words, San Antonio is out of the running for a potential Saints relocation.
"Perhaps San Antonio officials shouldn't have been surprised. The city's Alamodome was a stateof-the-art football facility when it opened in 1993 — but that was 14 years ago. Today, the multipurpose facility requires hundreds of millions of dollars in renovations.
"The San Antonio–Austin, Texas area is also a weak television market with a limited corporate base. The region's corporate community and rank-and-file ticket buyers already show their support for the NBA's Spurs. (San Antonio also has a baseball team in the Double A Texas League and an American Hockey League club.) A second major league franchise in San Antonio could result in a financial calamity for both the Spurs and the new team. There is just not enough of a market to sustain both.
"Even after Benson took his Saints from the Katrina-ravaged Superdome to play three games at the Alamodome, NFL officials remained convinced that San Antonio was simply not much of a market for pro football. Part of that reasoning may be attributable to Jerry Jones, whose Cowboys trained in San Antonio in 2002 and 2003 and will return this summer for training camp. Jones has signed a five-year deal with city officials, which grants him rent-free use of the Alamodome. San Antonio is part of the Dallas market and the league may be wary of cutting into McNair's Houston Texans revenue stream."
Next in terms of importance, Weiner writes that the NFL's Los Angeles dream is still just that, and it looks increasingly unlikely that a move will be made to that market in the short-term future. It is a "city without a state-of-the-art stadium" and possibilities for stadium sites in the L.A. area have fallen apart over the last few months.
Adding to the L.A. problem is the revelation by Weiner that the league's stadium-building subsidy program, also known as G-3, has emptied its coffers. In order to replenish this fund, owners may have to re-tool revenue sharing. Until that happens, it is likely that no discussion of building a stadium in Los Angeles can even begin to take place.
In short, the L.A. option is now dead.
Without San Antonio and Los Angeles as viable prospective relocation options, Benson has very little leverage in hinting a relocation from New Orleans - especially when season tickets are sold out and have a wait list 25,000 deep, and all Superdome suites are also sold out.
Friends, things are looking increasingly positive that the Saints will stay home in New Orleans beyond 2010, when their current agreement with Louisiana expires.
Now, we wait with baited breath for news on negotiations between Benson and the state, which we expect to hear within the next week.
With current governor Kathleen Blanco's announcement that she is not running for re-election this November, the pressure is off her politically to solidify a deal. But the pressure is on her to do so to help repair her incredibly fractured legacy. And, conversely, the pressure on Benson to not deal with someone he'd probably prefer not to benefit politically is off of him. (Recall his support for Bobby Jindal in 2003's gubernatorial election.) So, who knows how things will turn out?
In any event, the odds are steadily swinging in favor of the Saints staying in New Orleans. Keep your fingers crossed, and stay optimistic.
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