State makes team payment with borrowed money

Updated: July 6, 2005, 1:50 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS -- The state handed the New Orleans Saints a check for $12,415,267.53 Tuesday, its annual multimillion dollar payment to keep the team in Louisiana, according to Louisiana Superdome official Bill Curl.

Under a 10-year, $186 million agreement negotiated by former Gov. Mike Foster's administration in 2001, the state makes annual payments to the Saints.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco has been trying to renegotiate the agreement, but has agreed to make the payments.

The state has struggled to pay the Saints for the past few years and has yet to repay the cash it borrowed from an economic development fund last year to make its payment. This time, the state is borrowing $10.5 million through a financing mechanism it hasn't used for at least a decade.

State Bond Commission members have said there were few options available since the Legislature adjourned two weeks ago without approving a new tax source for the Saints payment or setting aside dollars in the state's budget to make the latest payment.

The governor hopes to re-negotiate the Saints deal, but Saints owner Tom Benson cut off negotiations until after the 2005 football season when the Saints have their first opportunity to negate the current deal with an $81 million payment to the state. The state can opt out of the deal after the 2007 season.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press