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Sunday, January 01, 2006

Memo to New Orleans Saints Staff from Team Owner, Tom Benson - from the NFL

This memo was written by Saints' Owner Tom Benson, and even though he wrote it for the organizations' staff, the National Football League released it for distribution by the member's of its press corp. Here it is below, with my commentary to follow

December 30, 2005


Hurricane Katrina overwhelmed New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region this past year. All citizens, businesses and governmental agencies in the region are continuing to deal with the recovery and rebuilding effort. Our Saints organization did many exceptional and unprecedented things to keep operating and play its entire 2005 schedule. We received tremendous cooperation in the San Antonio community to accomplish this.

While we are disappointed with our won-loss record, we are looking forward to recapturing the winning momentum we had at the end of the 2004 season and to playing the 2006 season knowing that many of this year's challenges will be behind us.

Recently I met with Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and told him that I wanted the Saints to resume operations in our training and practice facility in Metairie. Subsequently, it has been confirmed that our facility has been released back to us by FEMA and the National Guard. Today we are very pleased to advise our entire organization -- coaches, players and staff -- that we will be returning to Metairie in January to resume our off-season and regular season training operations there. Our facility will be fully staffed and open for player use on a regular basis by mid January. The schedule for players, including organized team activities, will be conducted in the same manner as in past seasons.

We will continue to work closely with the NFL and other entities to develop a sound playing schedule for our 2006 pre-season and regular season that will be very attractive for all Saints fans, both old and new. We are working in Louisiana to play as many games as possible in the Superdome, which may be ready in September. Many complex questions still need to be resolved in this area, and we expect to have answers to these scheduling questions early in the off-season. Along with the League and the business community in New Orleans, we will work with each of you to make the transition back to Metairie as smooth as possible.

In beginning preparations for a successful 2006 season, we have already reviewed with the NFL office a preliminary Saints playing schedule for the 2006 season that includes significantly reduced away game travel and attractive home games with the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals as part of an overall slate of great match-ups.

I am proud of everyone in the Saints organization, and we should join all citizens in the Gulf Coast region in looking forward to a better year in 2006.


I think releasing this was the right action because the public image of Bentson was that he was going to use the Katrina Disaster as a reason to move the team to ...LA, perhaps. On the matter of LA, I feel the NFL's making a mistake in not carefully packaging the approach to filling that market. They must develop a plan to sell the team, and that strategy must integrate the stadium's design with the organization's overall marketing system. In other words, "themed entertainment" should be the objective. Hollywood Exec Michael Ovitiz' orginal plan for "The Hacinda" -- a 70,000-seat stadium design based on a Spanish mission, was a great example of what I'm talking about; all the way down to the ringing of the mission bells when the team scored a touchdown.

Anything less than this will prove a fiscal failure. The LA market is far too competitive for a conventional approach to NFL expansion.

Vikings head coach Mike Tice fired -- annouced just 20 minutes ago on ESPN

After a controversial year which saw the departure of Randy Moss to the Oakland Raiders, the acquistion of seven new defensive players, a new offensive coordinator, and a terrible incident of indecent exposure involving 17 players, Mike Tice, the Minnesota Vikings head coach, was fired after their 34 to 10 victory over the Chicago Bears, who had already cliched home field advantage for the playoffs.

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