Lawmakers Talk About The Saints Coming To Mississippi

If Mississippi wants the Saints, lawmakers like Senator Billy Hewes will have to approve a finance package somewhere in the neighborhood of $350 million. "If we can do something like this again through economic development that enhances our opportunity to bring more money in," Hewes said, "then that is great and everybody wins. But we'll just have to see."

Representative Jim Simpson sits on the House Ways and Means committee. That committee would scrutinize any deal involving Mississippi and the Saints. "Obviously if it was a good economic deal," said Simpson, "it would be a good thing for Mississippi and a good thing for the coast. So we would look at it. But I'm really skeptical right now."

Simpson's colleague on the house floor is Gulfport representative Roger Ishee. "My first thought was what is it going to cost the Mississippi taxpayer," Ishee said, "because eventually we're going to have to pay for this facility."

The last big finance package approved by the state brought a Nissan plant to central Mississippi. Only after that deal was signed did lawmakers learn about some of the perks Mississippi gave Nissan -- things like first class air fare to and from the Far East for Nissan executives.

If the Saints are serious about coming to South Mississippi, Rep. Ishee said he'll make sure all perks are disclosed before a deal is finalized. "For everything in the future, including a possible stadium for the Saints," Ishee said, "I want to know what is in all these confidential reports, before I vote up or down on them."

So far, a study done by the Mississippi Development Authority and the Gulf Coast Gaming Association about the Saints moving to Mississippi has not been given to lawmakers.

The Mississippi plan would build a new football stadium near Interstate 10 and the two mile marker. The proposed site is within a 125,000 acre section of the Stennis Space Center buffer zone. The Saints would get a training facility, and economic development leaders say the area would get a NASCAR track.