Blanco Pushes Taxes to Keep Saints

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Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco is backing new taxes on New Orleans hotels, rental cars and football tickets as a way of raising money to help meet the state's annual payments to the New Orleans Saints.

Two Blanco administration bills would create about $2 million in new annual revenue, drawn mainly from Saints fans and the tourism industry in Orleans and Jefferson parishes.

Blanco's chief of staff, Andy Kopplin, says the governor had hoped to raise the additional revenue to support a proposed long-term contract between the state and the Saints that included a state renovation of the Superdome.

But team owner Tom Benson has cut off talks toward a deal, leaving the state with its current obligation to the team.

The state has a ten-year, $86 million deal with the Saints that includes annual cash payments, free Superdome rent and concession sales revenue for the franchise. The Superdome commission will fall as much as $10 million short on its $15 million payment due the Saints on July 5.

The bills are scheduled for a House committee hearing on Wednesday.