NEW ORLEANS -- Billionaire. Owner of the beloved New Orleans Saints. Owner of the promising New Orleans Pelicans. There are many reasons why it is good to be Tom Benson.
From Champions Square to Benson Tower to the naming rights for the Superdome, an article at Forbes.com by Dan Alexander explores in-depth how Benson has benefited, and will benefit in the future, in lucrative subsidizes from the state.
While it isn't news that an owner of a National Football League franchise makes scores of money, Alexander uncovers some staggering numbers of just how much Benson is benefiting from the state dollars.
For example, despite not owning the building, Benson cashes in when any events are held at the Superdome -- even if the Saints aren't playing at an event such as Essence Festival.
"Benson also collects all revenue from non-football events at the Superdome, according to Evan Holmes, director of business operations for the Superdome. That revenue stream, an estimated $5 million a year, does not get divided with other owners in the league," Alexander writes.
Under the deal, Benson also nets $5 million in cash from the state each time the Super Bowl is in New Orleans, Alexander claims.
Alexander describes the state's largesse to Benson: "under the new deal, Louisiana will pay Benson an estimated $353 million in rent to the building and square, tax breaks on the property and revenue guarantees from the renovated stadium through 2025." See full story
SMG, the company that manages the Superdome, however, questioned the accuracy of Alexander's piece, sending out the following statement:
The Saints do not receive ANY revenues from non-Saints events at the Superdome.
- The $12 million in earned revenue cited is not a direct or indirect subsidy of the Saints. It is game-day revenue earned from ticket sales and commercial rights that the Saints are entitled to receive under the current lease, as well as the previous lease. It is customary for NFL teams to benefit from such revenue streams.
- The Saints do not receive revenue from parking in Champions Garage (old Macy’s garage) for any event. That revenue is retained by the LSED.
- The commercial office rents paid at Benson Tower allow the State to eliminate previous financial obligations while consolidating its agencies in a Class A office building at a lesser cost than new construction.
- The $85 million improvements were a part of the post-Katrina modernization of the Superdome that allows the city to remain competitive for major events, and that benefits all tenants.
In summary, the new Saints lease allows the State to eliminate the direct financial subsidies that were required under the previous lease. We estimate that the lease will save taxpayers in excess of $270 million dollars over its duration when compared to the previous lease.