New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson is leaning strongly toward moving the Saints permanently to San Antonio following the devastation to the city and the Superdome by Hurricane Katrina, a state senator who has spoken with a top team official said Saturday.
Sen. Mike Michot, R-Lafayette, said he spoke with Saints’ chief of administration Arnold Fielkow by phone Friday morning about Benson’s potential plans.
Team officials could not be reached Saturday. The team had previously announced it was looking for a new home for the current season, and San Antonio was one of the options.
Michot said he was told that Benson has not made a final decision, but the owner is serious about moving once and for all to San Antonio. “We may lose them permanently,” Michot said.
A possible move by the team is a “huge concern” among a few state officials who have become aware of it, but every significant political figure in the state is preoccupied with reacting to the storm aftermath.
State officials want to convince Benson to delay a decision so that the state can focus on the rescue and rehabilitation effort and later find a way to keep the Saints at home in New Orleans.
“This is like pouring salt into the wound,” Michot said.
Michot said decency dictates that Benson should postpone any decision on a permanent move until state officials have had a chance to talk with him.
“Give us time,” Michot said.
Another state official confirmed a similar conversation with Fielkow.
Michot is the vice-chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, a key committee for legislation related to state agreement with the Saints.
He said that in the long run the Saints might be better off staying in New Orleans because a revived city with national support could provide a better stadium.