NFL commissioner (and Saints fans' biggest ally) Paul Tagliabue made his seventh trip to the Gulf Coast - and fifth visit to New Orleans - today when he accompanied Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and Saints owner Tom Benson in a one-hour Superdome walkthrough.
Afterward, Tags, making his first visit to the city since early April, had a lot of positive comments on what he saw.
According to this article by Jeff Duncan of the Times-Picayune
, Tagliabue said, "When I was last here (in December) there were concerns about the availability of materials, the availability of a skilled labor force and disputes on FEMA funding. It seems like all those things have worked out...There are some really tremendous new features in the renovation from the standpoint of the fans. It's going to be a much better fan experience."
And, according to this piece by Stacey Plaisance of the Clarion Ledger
, Tagliabue also added these comments: "We're working hard with the business community. It's a great opportunity for large businesses...I think there are some terrific features in the renovation. There's a feeling of openness, freshness."
Tags further spoke about the franchise record-high season ticket sales, in the near-60,000 range, saying, "Fan support is reflected in the season ticket sales."
According to the Times-Picayune story, Tagliabue also asked a worker for his yellow hard hat, which had a Saints and Packers logo, so that he could include it in an exhibit commemorating the restoration of the Superdome in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
It's all positive developments for keeping the Saints in New Orleans. A Canton exhibit recognizing the post-Katrina renovations of the Superdome probably wouldn't be put together if the team was ready to cut and run in January. Plus, the stadium could end up meeting Benson's previous expectations of renovations. And, it's obvious that the huge season ticket sales have made an impression.PHOTOS FROM WALKTHROUGH
Here are some photos from today's Superdome walkthrough:
(Looks like Tommy Boy is studying the Tagliabue official
keep-the-Saints-in-New-Orleans-or-else script ;o)...)
(Looks like Tommy Boy is now on script - which is in his grasp under his left arm...)DOME COULD HAVE NAME SPONSOR SOON
According to the above-quoted article in the Clarion-Ledger
, the Superdome could have a named business sponsor by the Monday Night Football home opener against Atlanta on Sept. 25.
The story states that a large corporation could buy the Dome's naming rights soon, and stadium officials are actively working with a team of sports marketing consultants to strike a deal before then.
Such a deal would be a tremendous boost to the long-term prospects of keeping the Saints in New Orleans. If the Dome has a corporate naming sponsorship, that deal would likely be in place only if the Saints were staying put. Plus, these deals typically are for long terms, not just on a year-to-year basis.
Also, the value of the sponsorship would be vastly less, and could even be a poor move from a public relations standpoint, if the Saints left town and the company was somehow tied to them.COLUMNIST EXPRESSES SUPPORT FOR KEEPING SAINTS IN N.O.
Foxsports.com NFL columnist John Czarnecki writes the following in his latest work, "If I was NFL commissioner...
"Tagliabue definitely has the right idea about New Orleans. Those devastated people need to keep their team. It has cost the NFL $30 million thus far, but it's a gesture worth continuing because the league can afford it. Now, Saints owner Tom Benson is a different cat. He made his fortune as a car salesman, and those guys tend to be sneaky and slick; but allowing him to move to San Antonio makes no sense. We'll fight that move because San Antonio still is Cowboys' country, and we can build so much good will by remaining in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. If Benson won't listen, we should take the franchise away from him. We all know that the NFL really understands good public relations. The league's second-best commissioner, Pete Rozelle, started in PR."
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