May 222014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Let’s face it, New Orleans was not awarded the Super Bowl because NFL owners valued the financial investment the citizens of Minneapolis had made to build a new stadium. New Orleans has a reliable stadium that has served us very well over the decades, a stadium which in fact transformed New Orleans and helped create Poydras Street as a major business destination. We should all thank Doug Thornton, Ron Forman and Governor Jindal for continuing to keep our stadium up to par, within its physical footprint. The State of Louisiana can’t afford to build a new stadium at this time and we don’t have the corporate base of Minneapolis, Dallas, Houston or Milwaukee to even partially fund such a project. Nevertheless, we will win another Super Bowl bid — maybe not next year — but soon because New Orleans is still the best sports destination in America.

If our economy keeps growing like it has in the last year, a new stadium could be on the horizon late in the next decade. Today’s grand opening at the Riverwalk, plans for new hotels on Canal Street, Tchoupitoulas and Julia Street, a new hotel and other improvements at the Morial Convention Center, continued growth in parish sales tax, and an increased population of young professionals who want to raise families here are all good signs that we might could pay for a new stadium in the future.

That’s only if we can figure out how to pay the firefighters’ ever-growing pension tab, the NOPD consent decree and Marlin Gusman’s jail consent decree. It’s no surprise to us that the new jail will not be finished this spring. That will cause the City to invest even more funds to renovate one of the older jail facilities, which will put the city further into the financial hole.

New taxing districts and other taxes proposed by Mayor Landrieu may eventually help balance the equation but who will it hurt? There are certainly no easy solutions.

AIRPORT CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT CONTRACT COULD BENEFIT LANDRIEU INSIDERS

The citizens of the region, tourists and visiting business people who use the airport every day will certainly benefit from a new terminal. But so will the team of contractors, engineers and other professionals who get the contract to manage this massive construction project.

We believe that a mayor in his first term tries strives for good government but that a mayor in his second term is more able to help his friends and leave them a lasting legacy. It’s always better to play insider ball than try to hit the goal from the outside.

The proposed airport construction management contract for the new terminal is a prime example. Mayors have access to two kinds of contracts – those where the lowest bidder is the winner and professional services contracts where more leeway is possible. There are two teams bidding on this project and both are composed of firms that have donated to Mayor Landrieu, according to The New Orleans Advocate. But the difference in the initial bids was $12 million dollars, which could funds lots of other projects. Of course the federal government provides much of the funding for airport construction and those funds cannot be used other than at the airport.

Danae and Allan certainly have received contracts from several mayors over the years, so we know the process well and how it works. Still, it is interesting to watch the process and the players.

OIL GAS COMPANIES SHOULD NOT WHINE ABOUT LEVEE DISTRICT LAWSUIT

We cannot feel sorry for the big drilling companies who are complaining about what they might have to pay if they lose the court fight. While Louisiana’s economy has benefitted for decades from the oil and gas industry and all the associated jobs, big oil has changed our coast forever and caused damage that will never be repaired.

Allan Katz spent 25 years as a political reporter and columnist at The Times-Picayune, and is now editor of the Kenner Star and host of several televsion programs, including the Louisiana Newsmaker on Cox Cable. Danae Columbus is executive producer of Louisiana Newsmaker, and has had a 30-year career in public relations, including stints at City Hall and the Dock Board. They both currently work for the Orleans Parish School Board. Among the recent candidates who have been represented by their public relations firm are City council members Stacy Head and Jared Brossett, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and former Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.

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  • jltnol

    Look.. If Tom Benson wants a new stadium… let him pay for the land and build it himself…. he’s got the money… Otherwise… make the NFL pay for it. We simply CAN NOT afford to spend money on this kind of “gift” to any NFL owner.

  • wistlo

    Try as I might, I’m not feeling the sympathy for NFL owners–especially if it means I’ll be “financially committed” for years to pay for a new structure I’ll visit only occasionally. Those owners seem to be doing OK.

    What, exactly, is wrong with the Superdome? Mercedes-Benz seems to like it well enough. Was the lights incident? Should one find a new house if the toaster trips a breaker? Too close to hotels and the party venue we locals like to call the “French Quarter”? Not enough luxury boxes? Take a few million over an off-season and we’ll carve out more.

    Is it sound public policy to bank billions of municipal funds on a venue for a sport that could well be following another sport down a similar trajectory? Remember boxing: top of the sports page, fights televised by closed circuits, “thrillas”, and Don King, all brought low by simple human physiology. Today, it’s hard to imagine that fate for football, just as it would have been for boxing in 1960.