Thursday, May 5, 2011
Saints to Toronto? Not a chance
By Pat Yasinskas
The New Orleans Saints were quick to emphatically shoot down a report out of Canada that they were on a short list of teams that could be relocated to Toronto.
“Reports about the Saints as a potential team moving to Toronto are completely false," team spokesman Greg Bensel said. “The New Orleans Saints are committed to the city of New Orleans."
Bensel quickly pointed to the simple facts. The Saints signed a new agreement with the state of Louisiana in 2009 that runs through 2025. Bensel said the deal includes an option for five years beyond that, which will “have our team playing in front of the greatest fans in the NFL for many years to come."
Part of the 2009 agreement called for Saints owner Tom Benson to buy and refurbish two office buildings that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina, and Champions Square was built next to the Superdome. The deal also included more than $300 million in upgrades to the Superdome. The first series of upgrades was performed last offseason and the final stage is taking place right now.
It’s all part of a plan that helped earn New Orleans the right to host the 2013 Super Bowl.
The report was based on statements by prominent Toronto figure Doug Ford, the brother of Toronto mayor Rob Ford. I think Doug Ford was doing more wishful thinking than anything when he said the Saints and Jacksonville Jaguars were “in play’’ as possible relocation candidates.
Although the Saints reportedly had strong flirtations with San Antonio in the uncertain aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, they are more firmly entrenched in New Orleans now than they’ve ever been. They’ve sold out every game since the re-opening of the Superdome in 2006 and have a lengthy waiting list for season tickets.
There’s no way I can see the Saints leaving New Orleans.