The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Thursday, December 29, 2005

No NFL In '06?

According to the Express-News, Tom Benson and Paul Tagliabue have agreed to move the team back to its state-of-the-art practice facility in Metaire, LA after the 2005 season:

New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson and NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue have reached an agreement to return the displaced team to its state-owned training facility in Metairie, La., after the season ends Sunday, sources have told the San Antonio Express-News.

Tagliabue is expected to inform the team's players and coaches of the decision when he meets with them today in San Antonio.

League spokesman Greg Aiello declined comment Thursday night.

The agreement likely eliminates the possibility of the Saints playing home games at the Alamodome in 2006. City officials had hoped the league would allow the Saints to play most of their games in San Antonio after the team averaged 62,666 for its three games at the dome this season and only 40,310 for four games at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.

Aiello said the league would announce the Saints' schedule in January. Benson said last week the team would practice in the state where it would play its games.

The Saint's Superdome lease is up in early 2007, and the article states that there may be a chance that the Saints play a game or two in San Antonio due to scheduling conflicts in Louisiana. If that happens I think it'd be pretty hard to see the Alamodome fill up like it did this year unless the Saints are substantially better. Alot of people attended those games believing they were doing their part in bringing an NFL franchise to San Antonio. That's a hard thing to hold on to if the Saints are back in Louisiana.

But I do still think there's a good chance we'll see some games here in San Antonio. According to reports, the earliest the Superdome will be ready is this coming November. Which would allow the Saints to play several games there. Then again, when's the last time a public works project came in at the earliest possible time?

Update, 1:35pm: ESPN has the story now. Len Pasquarelli is also saying that there's a possibility the Superdome could be opened by September. That came out of nowhere.

They also seem to make a big deal out of this being only for the 2006 season, with both Tags and Benson revisiting the decision after that. Which I think is a must for Benson. According to the article Benson lost $45 million this year. Without NFL subsidies does anyone else even think that number will close next year?