Saints Make $11.4M Superdome Renovation Payment

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New Orleans Saints Make $11.4M Superdome Renovation Payment For Renovations

The New Orleans Saints made an $11.4 million payment toward Caesars Superdome renovations on Friday, ending a public standoff between the NFL team and state officials who oversee the stadium that will host the next Super Bowl.

New Orleans Saints President Dennis Lauscha addressed the Superdome state commission’s conduct

The payment was announced by the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District (LSED) just hours after Saints President Dennis Lauscha called the Superdome state commission’s conduct “disingenuous and unprofessional” in comments published on the team’s website.

Lauscha revealed that the Saints’ decision to withhold payments since last December was based on disappointment over the state’s position in negotiations toward a long-term Superdome lease.

The LSED “was informed that material progress toward a long-term lease had to be made or payments would be stopped,” Lauscha said on the team website. “As of late of last week, sufficient progress was not made and the Saints reached out to tell them, yet again, that payments would not be made until significant progress on the lease was accomplished.”

However, late Friday afternoon, officials said payment was made after Lauscha and LSED board chairman Rob Vosbein had a “productive call.”

The dispute became public during an LSED board meeting Wednesday. Commission board members were informed by staff that New Orleans was behind on payments toward Superdome renovations, which are scheduled for completion this summer.

The Saints issued a statement later that day confirming they would pay their share, but not until they received then-unspecified “documentation.”

LSED officials said not a single work invoice related to renovations had been disputed

LSED officials responded that they “do not understand” what documentation the Saints needed because not a single work invoice related to renovations had been disputed, according to Brett Martel of The Associated Press.

Lauscha said it was “absolutely disingenuous and unprofessional for the LSED to make a statement that they are unaware of what we are looking for.”

Though, the LSED statement did reference the lease negotiations.

“That is a completely separate and independent agreement,” the LSED stated. “There is no legal basis to withhold payments under the Superdome Renovation Project Development Agreement based on efforts to negotiate a longer-term extension.”

The payment was insignificant compared to the $550 million renovation project itself, which grew from an initial $450 million plan formally approved in 2019. But even such a minor problem could have hindered the LSED’s ability to complete remaining work.

Lauscha said Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry called Saints owner Gayle Benson on Thursday night “and they had a wonderful conversation.”

After the call, an LSED attorney “reached out to us stating that they want to meet with us to resolve our impasse and we welcome that,” Lauscha said.

Lauscha said the Saints began questioning the validity of the lease negotiations when the LSED and ASM Global, the company the state pays to manage the dome, informed the team they “wanted to discuss rolling back some of the rights granted to the team in the current lease.”

About $58 million in renovation work still remains

“This was clearly not what was agreed to and shocking, to say the least, given how fundamental those rights were to making the partnership function as designed,” Lauscha said without going into specifics.

“Given that threat, we told ASM and the LSED that we would have no choice but to hold up construction payments until they agreed to live up to the commitments they made to preserving our rights.”

At the moment, the New Orleans Saints hold rights to revenue generated by the dome, including income received from naming rights deals and advertising space.

Moreover, the majority of the renovations have been completed. Approximately $58 million in work remains and the Saints are responsible for about $41 million, per Martel.

According to the team statement, the Saints have committed to spending about $200 million toward Superdome renovation costs. Stadium upgrades include overhauls of escalators, kitchens, and entrances. Older ramps were replaced with staircases and elevators.

The remaining work is scheduled to be completed ahead of the start of the 2024 NFL season.

Caesars Superdome will host Super Bowl LIX on Feb. 9, 2025. It will be the eighth Super Bowl played in the Superdome and the 11th in the city of New Orleans.

The most recent was Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, when the venue was then called Mercedes-Benz Superdome.