Is It Time For A New Stadium In New Orleans?
By Greg Barber
After the city of New Orleans lost to Minneapolis for the right to host the Super Bowl in 2018, fans and the organization were definitely upset but at the same time, an interesting question was raised - is it time for the Saints to build a new stadium?
Newer venues are increasingly getting more and more opportunities to host the biggest game of the year. Just take a look:
- AT&T Stadium - hosted the Super Bowl in 2010
- MetLife Stadium - hosted the Super Bowl in 2014
- Levi's Stadium - opens this season and will be a good candidate for a future Super Bowl
- Minnesota will host the Super Bowl in 2018 and its new stadium won't be complete for a few years
The problem with this loss to the Vikings is that it brings about a cause for concern on whether or not New Orleans will be removed from future Super Bowl considerations because of the rash of new stadiums built around the league over the last 10 years.
As great as the of city is - and they always do it right whether hosting the Super Bowl or any other event - it doesn't stop rival cities from using the lights going out for an extended period of time during Super Bowl XLVII as ammunition to say the stadium is old and past its prime. When you have a stadium that was built in 1975, it is most likely not going to be considered to be the cream of the crop, even with the upgrades made in 2011.
The Super Bowl in 2013 brought in $480 million to the city of New Orleans. But it's more than the much-needed revenue from future Super Bowls that the city could be missing out on - it could lose even more revenue if other events, such as NCAA basketball tournaments, concerts, MMA events, etc., go to a city with a newer stadium. Building a new stadium would give the state a chance to construct a more modern facility while adding in new amenities to improve the fan experience, no matter what event is being held.
It's very understandable to think nostalgically about the Superdome and not want to see it go, but as we all know, times have changed as has the way the NFL handles business. After so many years of both the biggest wins and the most heartbreaking losses in franchise history, it is time for a new day in New Orleans.
But how will this new stadium be paid for?
We all know that a new stadium will usually cost anywhere between $800 million and $1.5 billion. Judging from past stadium deals around the league, they tend to be one-sided. This is a practice that needs to be changed. It is understandable that because a city benefits from the stadium, it should invest in it, but some of these deals end up with the taxpayers getting the biggest share of the costs and owners receiving most of the profit.
According to Forbes, New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson has a net worth of $2 billion and the team is worth $1.4 billion. Being that the state of Louisiana is having financial difficulties right now, this could be a great opportunity for Benson to actually increase his net worth and profits by privately owning the stadium. With all the assets Benson owns and because he is a respected businessman, he should have no problem putting together a private group to fund a new stadium.
If Louisiana wants to be a part of the ownership group, I am sure it will find a way, but the state must try to get as good of a deal as possible.
At the end of the day, there are just too many benefits of building a new stadium in New Orleans to ignore.