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News » Super Bowl not worth flawed Saints deal, lawmaker says

Super Bowl not worth flawed Saints deal, lawmaker says

Super Bowl not worth flawed Saints deal, lawmaker says
BATON ROUGE -- The state should "not be rammed" into finishing a deal with the New Orleans Saints by mid-May just to enhance the chances of landing the 2013 Super Bowl, House Speaker Jim Tucker, R-Algiers, said Wednesday,

In a wide-ranging pre-legislative session briefing, Tucker told reporters that the goal is to get the best deal for the state, not a hurried one just to be eligible to land the National Football League championship game in four years, the next one up for grabs.

"We should not be negotiated into a box over the Super Bowl," Tucker said. "We should not allow the Super Bowl to rush us into a deal."

NFL owners are expected to award the 2013 game at their meeting May 18-20 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. New Orleans and several other NFL cities have made pitches for the game, but the league is unlikely to award its marquee event to a city or state that does not have a firm contract with an existing franchise.

Tucker said it is better to have a good deal and wait on another Super Bowl than to sign a bad deal and possibly get one in 2013.

The state's existing 10-year agreement with the team expires after the 2010 Football season. The deal pays the team about $186.5 million in inducements to play at the Superdome. State and team officials have refused to discuss the new deal.

A possible element of the proposal that filtered out last week would involve Saints owner Tom Benson buying the Dominion Towers next to the Superdome and leasing space to state agencies in New Orleans as part of the compensation package.

Some lawmakers have balked at that, saying the proposal may violate public leasing or bid laws that require state agencies to seek proposals from several potential landlords before signing leases.

"This is not a done deal," said Tucker, who has not been involved the negotiations, but has been apprised in general terms of the progress. Any deal struck must be approved by the Legislature.

Tucker said that the state may run into a problem with the deal if it involves paying Benson higher-than-market rental rates for office space.

"I think it (a new agreement) will be a significantly better deal for the state than what we have now," Tucker said. "But I don't think we can pay an above-market rate" if that's what the terms involve.

Kyle Plotkin, Gov. Bobby Jindal's press secretary, said talks with the team continue to "go well, but we still have time under the current contract" to reach an agreement even if it is not before the NFL next meets. "We agree with the speaker that we should only act if it's a good deal for the taxpayers."

. . . . . . .

Ed Anderson can be reached at eanderson@timespicayune.com or 225.342-5810.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 23, 2009

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