Friday, March 25, 2005

Tom Benson is a jackass

So the Saints are playing coy again, with Tom Benson crying that the current Saints revenue situation is "ruining us," whining that other owners are gloating about making $100 million more per year than he is with their gleaming new stadiums paid for with taxpayer dollars. "It's real embarrassing to come to these meetings like this and have New Orleans on the bottom of the totem pole."

Boo hoo.

Embarrassing? How's this for embarrassing: one quarter of children in Louisiana live below the official poverty line, 50 percent higher than the national average, making Louisiana the second worst state in the country for kids; only 63% of Louisiana high school students graduate; 50 percent of high school teachers aren't certified to teach their subject specialties; 12 percent of Louisiana children have no health insurance; Louisiana has the fourth worst crime rate in the nation, and New Orleans is always a contender for murder capital of the world.

Benson ticked off the options for Louisiana: 1) build a new stadium, 2) renovate the Superdome, or 3) the Saints will leave for Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, not only is Governor Blanco trying to keep the Saints in New Orleans, but she is trying to reduce the $70 million inducement extortion payments owed to the Saints through 2010. That's $15 million a year for...uh...eight at-home games! Last year the state took $7 million out of its economic development fund to pay the Saints. Hmm, I think I could find a better place to invest a couple million bucks to create jobs than in a two-hour football game.

Hey Tom, how about trading in that $20 million yacht for something a little more modest!

When Benson started threatening to leave New Orleans again unless he could get a better deal, he must have gotten the governor's cajun blood boiling. She wasn't going to let that nutria slime get the best of the situation. She told Benson that if he wanted to get a state subsidy on the grounds that he wasn't making enough money to stay in New Orleans, he'd have to open up his books just like every other person who asks for public assistance. It was a shrewd move. Benson hedged a little too long before the Saints closed the season with a miserable eight games won, eight games lost.

How's this for a solution: End the monopoly that sports franchises enjoy!

Imagine a world where any city that wants a team can have one. Imagine a world where you could have more than one team to root for in your state (increasing the chances that, for example, Louisiana might have a winning team). Imagine a world where ridiculous player salaries come back down to earth because there are more teams, there are more job openings, and the money pool is more widely distributed as teams compete for viewers.

Imagine a world where governments don't cave in to team owners, using taxpayer money for boondoggle stadium schemes that only make team owners rich. Imagine a world where governments actually invest our tax dollars in services to give our youth the educations they need to succeed in an ever more challenging world, and to make our nation stronger.


At 3/26/2005 07:34:00 AM, Anonymous pinkdragon said...



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