At a charity softball event, Saints quarterback Drew Brees inserted himself in a debate about whether the city of New Orleans "needs" a new sports stadium. His comments came one day after New Orleans lost a bid for the 2018 Super Bowl. Minneapolis, with its emphasis on having a new football stadium, won the bid.
"Listen, the league wants to encourage new stadiums to be built. This motivates and incentivizes cities, especially the small market teams, to pass legislation and approve bills that end up funding those types of stadiums," said Brees.
To be fair, Brees didn't specifically mention New Orleans as one of those small market cities, but social media isn't necessarily fair. On WWL-TV's Facebook page, Brees' comments struck a nerve.
Some user comments read like this: "This city can't afford another new stadium/venue. Fix the streets in the city and get better police protection," wrote Debbie Hall Perrone.
"Drew Brees, I normally back you 100%, but if you truly love this city you will have to face the bigger issues head on and believe me it is not to have a bigger and better stadium," said Judy Clasen Sinnott.
Ron Forman is the chairman of the LSED, the board overseeing, among other things, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. From his perspective, the debate over a new stadium is just that, a debate. Forman says the Superdome and New Orleans can compete with any other city or stadium.
"We have a new stadium. We put almost $400 million in rebuilding that stadium over the last ten years. We have secured many Super Bowls in the past and we are confident we can do it again," said Forman.
A new stadium would require public and political will. Referendums at the state and local level would have to take place. A project of that magnitude would also require money, including from tax payers. Forman estimates to build a brand new stadium would involve funding north of $1 billion.
"When you need that much money for a stadium you would have to go the public and justify the argument for why we need that stadium," said Forman.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu issued this statement on Thursday: "The Mercedes-Benz Superdome recently underwent an over $330 million renovation using public funds and is now a first-class venue for major events. We already have a world-class stadium, so our tax dollars are best spent on addressing our city's most pressing needs, including more police officers and better streets."
For now, talk of a new stadium remains in a hypothetical arena.