Saints fork over millions on Superdome renovations, ending a high-stakes standoff

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The New Orleans Saints organization late Friday paid the state $11.4 million it owes for the team’s share of ongoing renovations to the Caesars Superdome, after two days of finger pointing between the Benson organization and the Superdome Commission over why the team wasn’t paying and who was at fault.

Businessman Shane Guidry, a top political advisor to Republican Gov. Jeff Landry, confirmed that the team made the payment, hours after Landry called Saints owner Gayle Benson Thursday to discuss the issue.

“I am certainly glad that they paid. The governor is glad they paid. We want them to stay in New Orleans and be part of the community,” Guidry said. “But it has to be something that makes sense.”

The dispute over payments toward the ongoing $500 million renovation of the 49-year-old stadium erupted Wednesday at a meeting of the Superdome Commission, when the agency accused the team of falling behind on its share of renovation payments and threatening progress on the project with the Super Bowl just eight months away.

Later, both sides acknowledged the real dispute was over terms of a new long term lease that would keep the team in the Dome until at least 2035. The Saints said in a statement earlier Friday that the state was trying to potentially reduce some of its “concessions and rights,” or opportunities to make money off the Dome through the sale of food and drinks, suites and seats.

But the commission and Guidry, on behalf of Landry, both said the team’s obligation to continue paying its share of the renovations — a deal it agreed to several years ago — was unrelated to any new long term lease talks.

The Superdome Commission and the Saints did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

This is a developing story. Check back later.

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