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Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Updated: September 20, 3:35 PM ET
Saints sell out Superdome season tickets for first time

Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS -- The New Orleans Saints officially sold out the entire regular-season home schedule in the Louisiana Superdome.

It is the first time in the history of the franchise, founded in 1967, that every available seat is owned by a season ticket holder.

One year after Hurricane Katrina displaced the Saints for the entire regular season and placed the NFL's future in New Orleans in doubt, Saints officials now are making plans for a waiting list.

"We're now competing on that basis with places like New York, San Francisco ... Chicago and other major cities," owner Tom Benson said Tuesday. "This is just tremendous. People in New York and other places can't hardly believe what you all have done and people in this whole area have done."

Benson spoke at the reopening of an NFL-sponsored youth center near a now-closed public housing development. Several Saints players had joined volunteers in gutting and cleaning the center which had nearly 4 feet of water in it after Katrina. On Tuesday, Benson's granddaughter, team executive Rita Benson LeBlanc, presented the center with a check from the team for $100,000. College Sports TV gave another $109,000 at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Benson called on all Saints fans to wear black and gold on Monday to show solidarity with New Orleans and the team.

Benson also asked area employers to let people out of work an hour or two early on Monday so they could take part in festivities around the Superdome whether they have tickets to the game or not.

"Let's look like a Mardi Gras," Benson said.