NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Governor John Bel Edwards squared off against Drew Brees in a quarterback competition Monday (Aug. 12), but when it comes to a long-term deal to keep the Saints in New Orleans, bigger challenges lie ahead.
A key vote is coming up later this week that could open the door for nearly a half billion dollars worth of improvements to the Superdome.
Edwards -- the former Amite High School quarterback turned governor -- answered the challenge Monday against the future NFL Hall of Fame inductee. But, the real purpose of the visit was a meeting with Saints owner Gayle Benson about a $450 million effort to keep the Saints in New Orleans for up to 30 more years.
“There will be contributions from the Saints, LSED, and Louisiana for this $450 million renovation,” Edwards said.
With the Saints current lease on the Dome expiring in 2025, new renovations are now in the planning stage.
“So that that venue will remain competitive for years to come,” Edwards said “We’re working on a long-term extension for the Saints, 15 years, and an option for 15 beyond that."
The first vote on the new deal will be taken up the the state bond commission Thursday. If all goes as planned, officials could soon rip out 80,000 square feet of concourses and replace them with stairwells, new elevators and wider concession areas.
Kyle France with the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District said the project would be beneficial all around.
“It’s a huge deal for the city and state to keep this iconic facility competitive,” France said.
The new renovations have several goals, including to allow more natural light into the Superdome.
“What you will see is an effort to make more national light available in the dome, and some areas will be replaced, that aren’t utilized right now,” Edwards said.
The work will be done outside of football season, but there could be scheduling conflicts with other events, like concerts and parade balls, but France said nothing is set in stone.
“I can’t answer that right now, but all the events we have planned will continue, and we will work around those,” France said.
Dan Kelly, president of the Krewe of Endymion, announced Monday their parade and ball will be held in the Convention Center instead of the Superdome. He said the krewe will roll on their traditional Mid-City route. After passing Gallier Hall, the parade will turn left on Julia Street and proceed to Convention Center Boulevard, before entering the Morial Convention Center.
Despite the possibility of event changes, fans like Cynthia Cashman, were pleased to learn of a new potential deal.
“My parents were season ticket holders from Tulane stadium," Cashman said. “And, I would like to see the Saints stay here forever.”
As for the gubernatorial quarterback competition, backup Taysom Hill won the day, but Edwards said he wasn’t too bothered.
“That was fun,” Edwards said.
The governor said he is confident for more success when the new Saint contract renovation deal goes before the bond commission later this week.
The Saints current deal with the state relies heavily on a state commitment to rent property from Benson Tower to compensate the Saints for revenues they might be losing out on, due to New Orleans being a smaller NFL market.
The new deal calls for the Saints to kick in tens of millions of dollars to help pay for a portion of the renovations.