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We're not missing you yet, Big Mike

Mike Foster as governor did some good things for the state, but since his retirement he has the annoying habit of whenever opening his mouth of reminding people why we’re probably better off without him fussing around the Governor’s Mansion.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco quite properly is trying to end the state’s subsidization of the New Orleans Saints – the only major-league professional franchise in the country that receives, at this time, a direct cash subsidy from government (the state in this case). That deal, naturally, had been worked out by Foster.

The Saints, who receive $80 million a year in shared revenue from the NFL, have already received $52.5 million from the state under the Foster-era arrangement which is to last several more years. Blanco's plan would be through the year 2025 and require a new tax source of approximately $10 to $12 million a year to be worked into a refinancing and update of the current Superdome lease, a tax deal most likely paid by the real, direct beneficiaries of the Saints' presence, the greater New Orleans area.

But Foster can’t quite understand why everybody is so upset about this:

"When will people ever look at the Saints as just another business?" he asked. "The truth is, there was an economic study done that I personally checked on. The Saints make the state money. The Saints are an economic engine. Do we want to run off a business that makes the state money? Should we help them to the point that we lose money? No, but we're making money. If you listen to the debate, you would think the state has put oodles of money into this. We haven't."

Actually, as the above article points out, some have criticized the now-UNO Chancellor Tim Ryan's study, for a number of reasons. In fact, sports franchises increasingly have become vanity projects, given the escalation in player’s salaries. A number lose money with just an owner’s deep pockets keeping them afloat.

Most disturbing about Foster’s statement is the incredible assertion that he doesn’t think the state “has put oodles of money into this …. We haven’t.” Now, I realize that to multi-millionaire Mike that $52.5 million is chump change, but to me and virtually everybody else it’s real money. Can you say $157.5 million more for Medicaid? Or $472.5 million to finish up I-49 (that would pay for extending it right through Shreveport to the Arkansas border)? That how much we could have leveraged from the federal government out of that sum.

The fact is, as the governor has said, the Saints may have become a luxury the state can’t afford. New Orleans is one of the smallest television markets in the NFL but let’s let economics rule here. If we consider the state the Saints’ market (and a number of Dallas Cowboy fans in northwest Louisiana would beg to differ), it might not be big enough to sustain them. Let them go to greener pastures if they feel they can; I won’t root against them and I’d rather see the dollars spent on something like long-term health care.

As for our ex-governor, we hope the door didn’t hit you on the way out.

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