Some La. lawmakers want to cut Saints funding following protests

Some state lawmakers say they want to review Louisiana's payments to the Saints after a protest during the National Anthem at a recent Saints game.

 

NEW ORLEANS – In response to the NFL’s national anthem controversy, some state lawmakers want to review the incentives given to the Saints to play in New Orleans.

However, some New Orleans lawmakers say any move to break the current contract with the Saints would be dead on arrival.

A number of state lawmakers want to cut millions of dollars in state tax dollars, tax exemptions and tax credits now going to the New Orleans Saints and team owner Tom Benson due to a group of players sitting during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and President Donald Trump.

“We will not tolerate blatant disregard for the flag and the lives of so many men and women who have died defending our country,” Denham Springs State Representative Valarie Hodges said.

"I believe in the right to protest but, not at a taxpayer subsidized sporting event. Do it on your own time,” Representative Denny Harvard said.

Metairie Republican Cameron Henry agrees.

“You should honor the flag,” Henry said.

Henry expects the Saints contract to be reviewed at the October meeting of the Joint Legislative Committee on the budget.

“I think legislators and the community as a whole are going to react in a way that let's everyone know that we're disappointed in them at this point,” Henry said.

According to the Saints current contract with the state, which runs through 2025, the state agreed to pay Benson at least $198 million in increased revenue from the Superdome, $142 million in rental payments on property Benson owns, $10 million bonuses for bringing the Superbowl to New Orleans and $2.6 million in tax breaks.

Two local lawmakers say New Orleans could lose the Saints if it reneges on the terms of that contract.

“I see no growth for it. I see no path to victory for it. It's going to be a distraction, Senator Troy Carter said.

“I don't think the state can take a contract and just say politically we're not going to live up to it. That would be a terrible mistake and no way to do business,” Senator John Alario said.

Eyewitness News reached out to Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s office for comment on the Saints contract, however his office did not get back by the time of this post. 

© 2017 WWL-TV


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