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Stadium commission, Saints disagree on cause of delayed payments

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(The Center Square) – The state commission that manages the Caesars Superdome says the facility’s primary tenant, the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, is behind on its payments for a stadium upgrade project.

The team says the commission’s unfulfilled documentation request is the cause.

At Wednesday’s monthly meeting of the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District, staffers told the seven-member board that the team was $11.4 million in arrears toward the ongoing $530 million renovation project for the nearly 49-year-old stadium, which will host next year’s Super Bowl.

According to the district staffers, the district has been self-funding without the payments from the team. About $58 million remains to be funded to finish the remaining work on the project that includes new kitchens, ramps, escalators, new staircases and elevators, with the team having agreed to pay for $41 million.

Staffers said the district didn’t have the funds to cover the team’s portion.

In a statement released by the team, club officials said they had no problem making the overdue payment and paying off the remaining balance, but had asked and not received “certain documentation over an extended period.” The team also said it committed $200 million to the stadium renovations.

“Prior to our last payment in December, we requested the documentation, but in good faith we continued to fund,” the statement said. “We have been waiting and requesting that documentation since that date and most recently expected it before today’s LSED meeting and yet another timeline has slipped with no explanation or communication of any kind.

“We reached out to the LSED on numerous occasions but unfortunately none were returned until Tuesday afternoon. When the satisfactory documentation is provided, a payment will immediately be authorized. Unfortunately, it was disappointing to hear the comments coming out of the LSED meeting today that the team is not acting in good faith, when, in fact, we feel the opposite is true.”

The nonpayments will put the district in a financial crunch. It is funded primarily by hotel tax revenue and other state funds, such as vehicle license plate royalties, state appropriations, income taxes from out-of-state players that play at the district’s facilities, and slot revenue at the Fairgrounds Racetrack in New Orleans.

The hotel tax revenues were down $5.5 million in 2023 compared to the year prior according to a report by Louisiana Legislative auditor Mike Waguespack. The same report also says the district has liabilities of $672.6 million, mainly to finance the renovations of the Superdome.

In addition to the Superdome, the district manages the John A. Alario Sr. Event Center, the Smoothie King Center (home of the NBA’s Pelicans), the New Orleans Saints Training Facility, the TPC Louisiana golf course, and the Shrine on Airline, a former minor league baseball park in Metairie.