Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Fifty bucks for a fingertip?

From the Department of What The $*%&?, that story about the woman in Nevada who accused Wendy's of lacing her chili with somebody's finger just keeps getting more weird. According to the Houston Chronicle, the woman got the finger from her husband, who got it from a guy at some plant who cut it off in machinery. The de-fingered individual went around, showing it off like a badge of honor to his co-workers. When the Wendy's woman's husband saw it, he remembered that the de-fingered guy owed him fifty bucks, and asked to have the finger instead. And thus, the debt was eliminated.

That's not all, of course. The finger was preserved somehow, before being plunked into that chick's chili at Wendy's.

I think I'll stop there.

Friday, May 13, 2005

LA Times: "L.A. could be in store for quite a Saintly presence"

Below are excerpts from today's Los Angeles Times, where sports columnist T.J. Simers opines on the Saints in his story entitled "L.A. Could Be In Store For Quite a Saintly Presence":

"Like it or not, the NFL is on track to finally return, an attorney for the Saints this week saying the team could be on the move next year, already has an offer from someone in L.A., and ask yourself — will you wear a bag over your head?"

"The NFL will return to the Coliseum, a brand-spanking new Coliseum with all the bells and whistles designed to run up the price of tickets."

"WE'RE LOOKING at the Cleveland deal here in L.A., the NFL following the same plan it used to build a new stadium there after the team moved to Baltimore. Cleveland, getting financial help from the NFL, began construction on a new stadium without knowing who would be playing in it. I'm told the new building will have alarms in case the Raiders attempt to move in.

"The Saints remain the favorites — the first time they've been favorites in anything for a long time. They have a 90-day window to leave after the 2005 season, while paying an $81-million penalty, but if they don't go, the team must stay in New Orleans until 2010. Why would anyone want to stay in New Orleans for more than a weekend? 'In my opinion we'll be playing football in the [new] Coliseum in 2008 or 2009 — most likely 2009,' Coliseum GM Pat Lynch said."

Not exactly flattering talk about New Orleans or the Saints, but it's yet another verification of where things are heading.

Benson's New Orleans dealership changes name

Word out of New Orleans is that Tom Benson's automobile dealership in the Big Easy has dropped the name "Benson" in a name change. According to WWL, Benson still owns the dealership, however.

It is interesting that Benson would initiate a name change in the midst of talks of a Saints relocation. Is he setting the stage for that move? Have his dealership's sales dipped because of all that has occurred in the public spotlight over the last couple of years? Or is he getting ready to retire, sell the Saints for a cool billion bucks, and move someplace else? The timing is curious.

On another note, the Times-Picayune reports, similarly to what I had posted previously but in far more detail, that San Antonio is not a realistic option for an NFL relocation. New Orleans and San Antonio are similarly situated in terms of population and Fortune 500 companies, as well as stadium situations (two domes needing upgrades).

The NFL is targeting only one city for relocation (and it ain't Albuquerque).

Thursday, May 12, 2005

NFL to meet in two weeks on team move to LA

An excerpt from yesterday's Los Angeles Times:

"The presentations featured a comparative analysis of the competing sites — the Rose Bowl, Carson, Anaheim and the Coliseum — two weeks before NFL owners will meet in Washington in part to discuss the prospects of putting a team in the Los Angeles area. The league is expected to choose a stadium site or narrow the field at the May 24-25 meetings."

In other words, the NFL is moving full speed ahead for a move to Los Angeles. And, as I have stated in previous posts, the Saints are the frontrunners to be the new team in LA. Perhaps there is an outside chance that there WILL be an announcement of a team to move there this month, as NFL commish Paul Tagliabue had previously desired...

Also, in another story of interest from Fox Sports, the next-to-last paragraph in a story on the Saints wooing San Antonio reads as follows:
"On Tuesday, Anaheim officials unveiled plans for a football stadium near the home of the baseball Angels that could house an NFL franchise by 2008. Anaheim is one of four sites in the greater Los Angeles area being considered for an NFL franchise. The others are the Los Angeles Coliseum, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena and a proposed stadium in Carson."

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Where dat? See ya, Saints II

With the talks in Louisiana at a complete impasse, Tom Benson's plan to move the Saints out of New Orleans in the very near future is becoming more and more apparent.

In today's San Antonio Express-News, Stanley Rosenberg, an attorney in San Antonio who represents Benson, says that Benson has a strong interest in moving the Saints out of New Orleans and is actively looking to do so, with San Antonio being an option. And, with a pending mayoral runoff in the city, the candidates involved seem more than happy to jump on the bandwagon and try to make something happen.

Benson, of course, is no stranger to San Antonio. As the Express-News points out, he does have a home and business interests there. But San Antonio is similarly situated to New Orleans in terms of market size and not having enough wealth to spread around two professional sports franchises. Plus, the Alamodome would be the likely home site for such a move, and that arena needs as much if not more upgrades than does the Superdome. Take that with a potential relocation to Los Angeles lingering in the horizon, and getting the required 24 of 32 votes from NFL owners for this move seems highly unlikely.

As for Albuquerque - yes, the Saints are flirting with New Mexico too, according to the Express-News - that just won't happen. The NFL doesn't have room for a duplicate of the Arizona Cardinals.

So the obvious direction of the team is....drumroll, please....Los Angeles. Benson can draw around a $1 billion offer for the Saints (which is a great payoff for him, considering he paid around $70 million for the team in the 1980s). And all signs point to the team's departure west after the 2005 season.

The team's exit clause from its deal with Louisiana calls for a one-time $81 million payout within 90 days of the Saints' 2005 season finale. If Benson does that, he is free and clear to do what he wants. By not renegotiating the overly charitable deal with the state, Benson showed his hand. He will have his cake and eat it too, by still receiving this year's $15 million payment from Louisiana, while maintaining the ability to cut and run after 2005.

The obligation to keep the state in Louisiana would apparently still be intact even if Benson sold the team to another suitor. That would restrict offers he would receive for the team. So, if he forks over the $81 mil for the exit clause, the team could be sold to the highest bidder and moved - where else - to Los Angeles, the nation's second largest media market. That $81 million pales in comparison to a $1 billion payday.

The NFL is definitely on track to get a team to Los Angeles before the end of the decade. The Los Angeles Times has, for obvious reasons, been keeping track of the ongoings around the league. One story, entitled "Delay of NFL Game in L.A." from Christmas Day, 2004, focused on NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue's goal of announcing a decision in May 2005 on a team to move to LA by 2008. While the May announcement is not expected to occur, it does signify the very high desire to push things to happen.

That same story talked about the targeted teams for a move to Los Angeles:

"Now, the New Orleans Saints look to be the franchise that could most easily relocate to L.A., especially in light of the strained relationship between Saint owner Tom Benson and the state over the need for a new stadium and the use of public money to bolster the team's bottom line. In a comment that made headlines in Louisiana, Tagliague told The Times the Saints' situation 'doesn't look like it's any better today than it was a year ago. If anything, it looks worse.'"

With that backdrop, it's interesting to note that New Orleans, which has hosted more Super Bowls than any other city and is lauded as an outstanding Super Bowl site, is not on tap to host another one through 2010. The last one in the Crescent City was 2002's classic between the Patriots and Rams. To host a Super Bowl, the host city must have an NFL franchise. Perhaps the Super Bowl schedule of hosts foreshadows what is to come.

I think Tagliabue will get his wish, far earlier than he has asserted. The Saints look like they're headed to Los Angeles in 2006, Benson looks like he's months from being a billionaire, and Louisiana looks like it will be less one NFL team - and the annual offseason headaches from Benson.