BATON ROUGE, La. (The Center Square) — Louisiana officials are close to finalizing a deal with the New Orleans Saints that would keep the team in place for another 30 years, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Monday.
“I feel really good that we’re going to work this out,” he said, shortly after visiting a Saints practice.
The deal would represent a 15-year commitment, with the structure in place for an additional 15 years, Edwards said.
The arrangement would include an estimated $450 million upgrade of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, which opened in 1975. The team reportedly is committed to paying a third of the cost while the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District would issue bonds worth $210 million, which would mean about $90 million would come directly from the state.
LSED, the political subdivision of the state that runs the Superdome, collects a 4 percent hotel occupancy tax in Jefferson and Orleans parishes. The district’s occupancy tax is in lieu of a 2 percent sales tax the state otherwise would collect, according to the Louisiana Department of Revenue, though other relevant state taxes are imposed.
On Thursday, the district will ask the State Bond Commission for approval to issue bonds to get the work started.
“There will be contributions from the Saints, from LSED, and from the state of Louisiana,” Edwards said.
The Saints have long been subsidized by the state, with the rent-free use of the Superdome likely the most lucrative benefit. The franchise has argued the arrangement helps make up for the fact that New Orleans is a relatively small market for a major sports team.
Edwards said he expects state taxpayers to get a good deal and said it’s important for the Superdome to remain competitive for concerts and major events that don’t involve the Saints. He said there has been no discussion of a new stadium.
“In the time period that we’ve had the Superdome, many other domed stadiums have been built and torn down,” he said. “We still have the Superdome. But the reason we’ve been able to make that happen is that periodically we go in and upgrade.”
Reporting by David Jacobs
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