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Dispute emerges over Saints’ payments for Superdome upgrades

A dispute has emerged in New Orleans over payments to be made by the Saints for upgrades at the Superdome. And it’s having an impact on plans to upgrade the Smoothie King Center, where the Pelicans play.

Via the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Saints are $11.5 million behind on payments for Superdome upgrades. Although the early paragraphs of the article hint that Saints owner Gayle Benson has cash-flow issues (e.g., “behind on her bills”), the Saints characterize the situation far differently.

The team says in the article that it has “no issue with making the current payment of $11.5 million or, for that matter, the remaining balance,” and that it has “asked for certain documentation over an extended period and we have not received that documentation.”

The Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District voted to pause on a plan to upgrade the Smoothie King Center due to the outstanding balance.

The Saints have withheld payment since December for the $58 million project. The team’s share of the upgrades of $41 million.

The Pelicans have a lease at the Smoothie King Center through 2029. The prospect of addressing issues at their current home apparently can’t be addressed until the Superdome situation is resolved.

That would be the smart move. Work it out. The LSED and the Saints should press pause on the P.R. battle and sit down and settle their issues. It’s $11.5 million, which is a drop in the bucket for both entities. So, to both sides, get your grievances out of your system and then focus on solving the problem in a productive way.

With the Super Bowl coming to town in only nine months, it helps no one to have dirty laundry like this flapping in the breeze.