NFL has deal on Superdome grant terms

Updated: July 14, 2006, 8:48 AM ET
Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS -- The governing board of the Louisiana Superdome has approved a funding agreement with the National Football League that would provide up to $20 million for repairs and improvements to the stadium.

The deal is subject to approval by Gov. Kathleen Blanco, the Saints and the NFL. But state officials said all parties will sign the agreement within the next two weeks.

The agreement could set the stage for the sides to begin negotiations on a long-term contract. The Saints are entering the sixth year of a 10-year, $186.5 million contract that expires after the 2010 season.

The deal approved Thursday by the Superdome commission guarantees the state $15 million to repair and improve the 30-year-old stadium. An additional $5 million is available, subject to a match by the state.

In return, the Saints get rights to advertising on the stadium's new scoreboard and other boards in the stadium and the right to open a retail store in the Superdome.

Doug Thornton, the regional vice president of SMG, the company that manages the Superdome, estimated the total value of the marketing rights to be $500,000 to $750,000 annually, depending on the club's ability to market the advertising and sponsorship packages.

NFL owners authorized the grant more than five months ago, but the money has been tied up in negotiations among league, state and Saints officials concerning the marketing rights at the state-owned stadium.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press