Fletcher Mackel of WDSU goes off on Shinn/Benson
just got this forwarded to me...
I've now been living on an air mattress at the TV station here in New
Orleans covering the aftermath of Katrina for 37 days. In this time I've
seen tremendous acts of heroism and courage. Sadly, I've also seen cowards
looting and taking advantage of innocent people trying to rebuild our
When speaking of cowards taking advantage of the worst natural disaster
in United States history, two names jump into my head: Saints owner Tom
Benson and Hornets owner George Shinn.
These men own the two most high profile businesses in our city.
Millions of people around the world read and hear about our great city
because of the spotlight professional sports shines on New Orleans.
So, in our greatest time on need, where are Benson and Shinn? Are
they waving the New Orleans flag, telling the world that our city will be
viable once again? Are they lobbying the mayor to become members of his
committee to rebuild New Orleans? Are they telling business leaders
around the world that their companies should relocate to New Orleans and
play a major role in the redeveloping of a major American city? NO!
As I type Shinn is looking for property in the Brick Town area of
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Hornets owner is being wined and dined by
dozens of big money Oklahoma cowboys and politicians and talking about how
great an NBA team would fit in the sooner state. Due to damage at the New
Orleans arena and the condition of the city following Katrina the Hornets
will play 35 of their 41 home games in Oklahoma City. Shinn has even
changed the name of the team. His franchise is now known as the New
Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets.
Benson is holed up in his San Antonio, Texas ranch. The New Orleans
native, who's childhood neighborhood was totally flooded and destroyed by
Katrina, was ready to pull the plug on the Crescent City 1 month ago!
Benson has long believed that San Antonio was ripe for an NFL franchise
and now he's getting his wish with an opportunity to explore this market
(his team will practice and operate this season and also play 3 'home'
games in San Antonio).
Why are Benson and Shinn doing this? Because they're disgusting, money
grubbing men with little dignity and pride!
Unlike other businesses in New Orleans affected by Katrina, Benson and
Shinn have franchises that WILL make money this year. Due to revenue
sharing and TV contracts in their leagues both teams will be able to make
payroll and earn millions of dollars regardless of how many tickets and
luxury suites they sell. Therefore, they should both be making a bigger
commitment to helping the people of this community rebuild and get back on
their feet. Simply visiting New Orleans and shaking hands with the
police, fire and relief workers who love and support their teams would be
good enough. Reassuring (in person) men and women who's entertainment
dollars have gone to these teams for years that both the Saints and
Hornets are in this city for the long haul would be priceless.
Shinn and Benson have both said that they'll wait to see if New Orleans
recovers financially before deciding if they can run their business here.
Let me tell you right now, New Orleans is at least 2 years away from
being economically viably once again.
The city can't make payroll because we have no tax base. The state
says they'll face a 1 BILLION dollar deficit due to the wrath of Katrina.
Due to this bleak financial situation in southeast Louisiana Tom
Benson and George Shinn will NOT collect annuity payments this season
from the city and the state.
Both men SHOULD handle the situation with class and tell the city and
state that they won't even ask for the money until at least 2007.
That said, I have no confidence in either of these men to stay past
next summer. When the city and state fail to make 1 payment to these teams
both Shinn and Benson claim breech of contract and shop their franchises.
Like many, I'm not a fan of numerous local and state politicians right
now but these men and women have worked extremely hard over the years to
keep both Benson and Shinn happy. Benson bought his team for 75 million
dollars. Today, thanks in large part to guarantees and facility upgrades
from city and state leaders Benson's franchise is now valued at just under
700 million dollars. Shinn's team jumped in value from 200 to 300 million
upon his move from Charlotte to New Orleans due to the incentive package
city and state leaders handed him.
They owe it these politicians to cut New Orleans a break! Do what's
right. Despite their lack of civic integrity both men have to know that
turning their backs on New Orleans during this time of need is wrong!
Imagine Miami had been hit by Katrina, can anyone fathom Dolphins
owner Wayne Hyzuinga salivating about a potential move to another city? NO
Think if an earthquake rocked Los Angeles. Is there a person who
believes that Lakers owner Jerry Buss would turn his back on the affected
areas? I DON'T THINK SO!
With his silence Tom Benson spits in the face of everyone who's ever
bought a ticket to a Saints game. With his gratuitous flirtation with
Oklahoma City George Shinn laughs at every New Orleanian who lost a home
Media guides for both the Saints and Hornets brag that each owner is a
visionary. A leader who dragged himself up from nothing to become a
millionaire and a leader of men. Benson was a meager car dealer, who,
through shrewd business moves became a successful automobile tycoon.
Shinn claims to have once worked as a janitor for a company he'd
eventually go on to buy years later for tens of millions of dollars.
If these men are as good at building themselves and their companies
as they say then I beg them to take a more active role in the rebuilding
of a major American city filled with more character, charm, history, great
food, amazing architecture and passionate fans then both San Antonio and
Oklahoma City combined.
New Orleans should be looked at as a stock that's hit rock bottom.
You can buy cheap right now and perhaps reap the benefits if our city is
rebuilt properly (and with people like Donald Trump reaffirming his
commitment to build and help the city return it looks like New Orleans
could make a monumental comeback).
So Tom Benson and George Shinn. Please stay and rebuild. Give us 3
years, give us a reasonable amount of time to rebuild! Please show the
world that New Orleans is worth investing in.....or leave.....and announce
to the world that New Orleans is dead!!!!!
The choice is your!
Again, I have no faith in either of these men to the right thing on
their own. BUT, with pressure from fans as well as local and national
media maybe they'll come around.
So forward this e-mail to as many people as you can. Send it to fans
of these teams, media members, politicians. The more people who start
chastising Benson and Shinn for their neglect of New Orleans...the better
chance we have!