Sunday, February 7, 2010

Saints Win Super Bowl at Cost of New Orleans Hurricane Recovery

The Saints won the sporting event known as the "super" bowl. I know, I couldn't give less of shit about that myself. As I have written repeatedly on this blog, one of my crackpot obsessions is the use of taxpayer money to finance sports corporations.

The Saints might be the worst. As the president, Barack Obama casually mentioned in passing when making his (inaccurate?) "super" bowl prediction earlier this week:
President Barack Obama says the Indianapolis Colts "have to be favored" in the Super Bowl, even though he has a "soft spot" for the New Orleans Saints.
You will note that Mr. Obama equivocated with a "have to be favored" rather than a "I think they're going to win." He is a politician, after all.

As for that "soft spot" for the Saints sports corporation:
Still, Obama says he has a soft spot for New Orleans, "mainly because of what the city has gone through over these last several years" since Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.
Gosh knows the Saints suffered during hurricane Katrina. How did the Saints ever recover from that hurricane that so devastated them?

Actually, the Saints did all right.
After more than a year of negotiating, the Saints say they have reached a tentative agreement with the state that will keep the NFL franchise in New Orleans through 2025, remove the need for a new stadium by upgrading the Superdome and resurrect an abandoned section of the Central Business District with a refurbished office tower and a new sports entertainment district.
As part of the deal, which officials said could save the state $281 million when compared with the current agreement that pays the Saints $23 million in subsidies, the state would make $85 million in improvements to the Dome, and Saints owner Tom Benson and his family would buy the vacant Dominion Tower and New Orleans Centre and lease office space back to the state.
That's big of the Saints, who were threatening to leave Katrina-ravaged New Orleans, to forego that "$281 million," in favor of a mere $85 million. That is real sacrifice. And then leasing land back from the owner of the team on top of that. How much does that cost?

Don't know. But don't worry about that -- the Saints' owner says it's a good deal:
"Our community is coming back slowly, and I think this is going to be the shot in the arm that's going to keep it going in that direction, " Benson said Wednesday. "I really believe that this is going to be something that is going to be very sound for our community."
Says the guy who just got $85 million in renovation money, and who knows how much for buying land around the stadium, to be leased back to the state. You can see how selfless this man is, and how concerned he is about the community's recovery.
"There was a lot of excitement about the savings to the state, " Superdome Chairman Ron Forman said. "There were still concerns because this is a tough fiscal year. But we also believe that if we are going to have professional sports in New Orleans, this is so much better than what we had before. And when we show the savings to the legislators, we think we will get whatever we need."
It's good of them to be "concerned." It's that "concern" that led to the Saints' selflessly foregoing $281 million for $85 million. Hell's bells, they saved the state almost $200 on the deal. They really are "Saints"!

Speaking of that $85 million -- where's it coming from?
State officials and lawmakers say the money will likely come from the state's surplus.
Wait, what?

Louisiana has a "surplus"? The Louisiana that was hit by hurricane Katrina? That state has a "surplus"?

"Surplus" means "extra money," doesn't it? As in, they've spent everything they need to, and still have money left over for frivolous shit like a football stadium? So I guess the recovery from hurricane Katrina is complete, then?

Maybe not.
But the path to that higher ground is steep. Blocks upon blocks in the city are still pockmarked with vacant lots or abandoned houses. Violent crime, while down significantly in recent months, still plagues much of the city, and the low-wage, stagnant economy that has burdened so many of the city’s poor black residents has not been retooled.
“The recovery has not moved that far along,” said Renette Dejoie-Hall, the executive editor of The Louisiana Weekly, a black-interest publication that endorsed Mr. [Mitch] Landrieu over other [mayoral] candidates who it said would have needed “on-the-job training on how to maneuver through labyrinthine governmental bureaucracies.”
Now I'm confused. There is a "surplus," but there are still "blocks upon blocks in the city [that] are still pockmarked with vacant lots or abandoned houses." Why do they have a "surplus" to spend on a freaking football stadium for a sports corporation, when New Orleans is still so bad off?

So, anyway, congratulations to the Saints on their big "super" bowl win. I look forward to seeing their victory parade as it winds its way down those blocks upon blocks of the city that are still pockmarked with vacant lots or abandoned houses.
On Sunday morning, Mayor-elect Mitch Landrieu announced that he would yield the limelight over his landslide election last night to three days of local delirium over the Saints, the Super Bowl, the team's return from Miami on Monday and - win or lose - Carnival parade for the hometown heroes on Tuesday.
Drew Brees was named the MVP of the "super" bowl. His team's win has done so much to help the city of New Orleans feel better about itself. More, apparently, than the state is doing.

Drew Brees pic source.

1 comment:

shampoo said...

I was working at walmart in georgia whenn katrina hit. I talked to people who'd refugeed out as well as people who went down to help. it wasn't just new orleans, as you know. it's pretty sad the potus connects a sportsteam that plays in n.o. so strongly to the event.