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State Makes Saints Counteroffer

May 14, 2001

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) _ State officials think renovating the 26-year-old Superdome might be better than building a new stadium for the New Orleans Saints.

Officials made that proposal Monday at the meeting with team owner Tom Benson.

Team officials have been saying for more than a year that the Saints need additional revenue to stay competitive in the NFL. Last week, Saints officials asked the state to build a new stadium by 2006.

Louisiana’s proposal includes formation of a task force to study the issue and report no later than December, 2005, meaning a new stadium probably would be as much as 10 years away.

Being considered are dome renovations and other dome-related revenue that state officials and their consultants believe would boost the team’s income by $15 million annually and put it in the NFL’s top 10 in terms of stadium revenue.

Benson and Gov. Mike Foster emerged from a luncheon meeting at the governor’s mansion with little to say on the specifics of the proposal. Benson said he wanted time for his staff to review it.

Foster let Steve Perry, his chief of staff, do most of the talking after strongly emphasizing one point: ``Everything we’re talking about is without raising any taxes to anyone in the state.″

The state’s offer provides the Saints with enough money to move from about 27th to 10th in the NFL in stadium-related revenue; or from the current $39.3 million to about $54.3 million.

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