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Louisiana lawmakers agree to add Caesars name to Superdome

Louisiana lawmakers agree to add Caesars name to Superdome

New Orleans’ iconic Superdome may soon bear the Caesars Entertainment name and logoBy MELINDA DESLATTE Associated PressJuly 22, 2021, 9:23 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleBATON ROUGE, La. — New Orleans’ iconic Superdome may soon bear the Caesars Entertainment name and logo, under a 20-year naming rights deal with the Saints that is nearing completion and won required legislative backing Thursday.Terms of the contract are still being finalized. But the deal is estimated to be worth about $138 million through 2041, according to information provided to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget, the House and Senate panel that approved the naming rights transfer without objection.“We look forward to a long, 20-year relationship,” said Sen. Bodi White, the Baton Rouge Republican who chairs the budget committee.The money will go to the Saints organization, as provided in state law as part of Louisiana’s contractual arrangement with the NFL team.But the Saints intend to spend the cash on renovations and upkeep of the domed stadium, said Evan Holmes, with ASM Global, the company that manages the state-owned Superdome and other facilities in the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District.This will be the first naming rights deal for an NFL stadium that, when reached, includes a direct connection to a casino. The Dolphins play in Hard Rock Stadium, but that agreement did not have a link to any casinos in 2016, the NFL confirmed.The Superdome bore the Mercedes-Benz name and icon for the past decade, but that 2011 sponsorship expires July 31. Caesars wants to take over the naming rights starting in August.The Saints said a formal announcement of the new sponsorship agreement will come when a final deal is struck with Caesars Entertainment. Photos of how the dome exterior and interiors will look with the new Caesars Superdome branding, signage and logo were provided to lawmakers.Sen. Katrina Jackson, a Monroe Democrat, was not impressed. She said the font of the Caesars name — chosen by the company — looks “gaudy and cartoony.”Holmes replied that such mock-ups are always a bit over the top.“I think it will be a little more subtle than the renderings,” he told Jackson.The Superdome hosts not only home Saints games but also Essence Festival, the New Orleans Bowl, the Allstate Sugar Bowl, the Bayou Classic football game between Southern University and Grambling State University, and other events. The 2025 Super Bowl is scheduled to be played in the stadium.———Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte.

Louisiana veto session ends with no bill rejections reversed

Louisiana veto session ends with no bill rejections reversed

BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana lawmakers ended their historic veto session Wednesday after two days in which Republicans failed to overturn any of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ bill rejections, a significant blow to GOP efforts to assert independence from the Democratic governor.The session collapsed after House Republicans couldn’t garner the votes to reverse Edwards’ veto of legislation banning transgender athletes from school sports teams, the driving force behind the first veto session ever held under the nearly 50-year-old state constitution.“It appears that we have concluded the business of the veto session,” Republican Senate President Page Cortez said two hours after the House’s failed override vote.While the Senate narrowly agreed Tuesday to the veto override of the sports ban, the House on Wednesday fell two votes short of the two-thirds support required to bypass the governor. Republicans were unable to sway the handful of Democrats needed to reach the supermajority hurdle to mark what would have been the first time in nearly 30 years that the Louisiana Legislature has overridden a gubernatorial veto.Republican-led efforts to reverse Edwards’ spurning of a bill to loosen the rules for carrying concealed handguns in Louisiana stalled in the Senate, with three votes fewer than required. Other veto overrides in the Senate failed as well, and the House didn’t try to overturn anything beyond the sports ban measure.“Obviously, I’m heartened because I believe the vetoes that I issued were in the state’s best interest,” Edwards, the Deep South’s only Democratic governor, said on his monthly radio show as it became clear his bill rejections would be sustained.Still, Republican leader Rep. Blake Miguez said the GOP “made strides” toward greater legislative independence simply by breaking decades of tradition and holding the veto session.The transgender sports ban spurred the unprecedented gathering, after winning bipartisan backing in the regular session. Republican legislators said they heard an overwhelming outcry from Louisiana residents who wanted a law prohibiting transgender athletes from competing on school sports teams of their identified gender.The House GOP’s inability to cobble together the needed votes came two days after Republican House Speaker Clay Schexnayder told reporters he was “comfortable 100%” that his chamber had the support for the override.But the House vote Wednesday was 68-30. It needed 70 votes to pass. The Senate on Tuesday voted 26-12 to override the bill rejection, the bare minimum needed for the override. Those votes were fewer than the support the bill had when it originally passed. But Edwards put a strong effort behind sustaining his vetoes, calling back his former gubernatorial campaign manager, who now lives in Washington, to help defeat the overrides.Supporters described the ban sponsored by Franklinton Sen. Beth Mizell, the Senate’s second-ranking Republican, as protecting girls across K-12 schools and colleges from unfair competition, and the bill was called the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.” They said transgender athletes have an automatic, built-in advantage in competitions against other females.“Respecting biological differences is not discrimination. It’s not hate,” said Rep. Laurie Schlegel, the Metairie Republican who handled the bill in the House. She urged her colleagues: “Be courageous. Fight like a girl and vote to override this veto.”The legislation is similar to bans passed by Republican-led legislatures in several states, such as Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida.Opponents said the measure enshrines discrimination into state law.Edwards said the veto override would have risked making Louisiana lose NCAA sporting events or large conventions for a problem that does not exist.“The last thing you want to do is to lose those major events in exchange for a bill that doesn’t change anything on the ground in Louisiana. It just isn’t happening,” the governor said.New Orleans Rep. Royce Duplessis, who spoke on behalf of the opposition in the House, said the legislation will make life more difficult for vulnerable children with higher rates of suicide and depression, and he noted that bill backers could not point to a single example of a Louisiana-specific problem.“This is nothing more than a manufactured wedge issue,” he said. “This bill will not protect our girls. This bill will only further ostracize and alienate our state’s most vulnerable.”The Louisiana High School Athletic Association already has enacted the equivalent of a prohibition on transgender athletes participating on high school sports teams.Duplessis also suggested the legislation could open the door to invasive biological examinations for female athletes accused of being transgender.One Republican in the House, Rep. Joe Stagni of Kenner, broke ranks and voted against the veto override. One Democrat, Rep. Francis Thompson of Delhi, supported overturning the governor’s bill rejection.———Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte.

Louisiana Senate backs transgender sports ban veto override

Louisiana Senate backs transgender sports ban veto override

BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana’s Republican state senators Tuesday narrowly voted to overturn Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ rejection of a bill prohibiting transgender students from participating in school sports, on the opening day of the first veto session under the state’s nearly 50-year-old constitution.But, with that debate shifting to the House for a final decision, it appeared the transgender sports ban might be the only veto that could be overridden in the historic gathering of the majority-GOP House and Senate.Senators blocked efforts to override a separate measure that would remove the permitting requirements, background check and safety training required to have a concealed handgun in Louisiana — and three other veto overrides that were attempted failed in the chamber.The House planned to start its debates Wednesday.It was unlikely the Senate could overturn any other Edwards vetoes after one GOP senator, Pat Connick of Jefferson Parish, said he wouldn’t support additional overrides outside of the transgender sports ban bill. That decision gives senators too few Republican votes to overrule a veto on their own.Senators voted 26-12 for the transgender sports ban veto override — the exact number of votes needed. The vote fell along party lines, with Republicans in support of the measure and Democrats in opposition. In the House, Republicans will need to pick up some backing from Democrats and independents to overturn the veto and enact the ban in law.Supporters described the prohibition sponsored by Franklinton Sen. Beth Mizell, the Senate’s second-ranking Republican, as protecting girls across K-12 schools and colleges from unfair competition. They said transgender athletes have an automatic, built-in advantage in competitions against other females.“Without protection, women’s sports would not exist. Nothing has changed,” Mizell said. She added: “I ask you to do what is right for the girls of Louisiana and to put the politics aside on this.”The legislation is similar to bans passed by Republican-led legislatures in several states, such as Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida.Opponents, including Edwards, have called the measure discriminatory. They note that bill backers can’t point to a single example of a Louisiana-specific problem. And they said the Louisiana High School Athletic Association already has enacted the equivalent of a prohibition on transgender athletes participating on high school sports teams.”I’m convinced this bill is a solution looking for a problem,” said Sen. Jay Luneau, an Alexandria Democrat.New Orleans Democratic Sen. Karen Carter Peterson said passage of the law would threaten Louisiana’s ability to attract business and sporting events, a point argued by business organization leaders from Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Peterson said 400 major corporations have publicly stated opposition to discrimination against transgender people.“You can’t have it both ways,” she said. “You either want businesses to come to Louisiana or you can discriminate.”But Sen. Mike Fesi, a Houma Republican, told his colleagues they should think about their “daughters and granddaughters” and their “good, decent morals.”In the House, a handful of opponents to the transgender sports ban briefly tried to protest in the balcony, only to be forcibly removed from the chamber.Edwards’ vetoes of the transgender sports prohibition bill and the concealed carry measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Jay Morris were the driving forces behind Republicans’ decision to return to the Louisiana Capitol.But the vote to enact the concealed carry measure was 23-15, three votes short of the two-thirds requirement. Four senators voted for the bill during the regular session but refused to overturn Edwards’ veto: Connick; Louie Bernard, a Natchitoches Republican; Franklin Foil, a Baton Rouge Republican; and Gary Smith, a Norco Democrat.Though the law enforcement community is split on the legislation, Bernard said he changed his mind after hearing from police officers who believe removal of the permitting requirement could make their jobs more dangerous.“Until I’m ready to put on the badge and wear the uniform, I can’t ignore that view,” he said.Morris, of Monroe, said his bill was about the right to “protecting our families and protecting our property.” He resisted suggestions that loosening restrictions would put police at greater risk.“I don’t know if the world can get any more dangerous,” he said.The veto session can last up to five days, but legislative leaders said they hope to wrap up before Saturday. In all, Edwards jettisoned 28 bills from the regular session that ended in June that lawmakers could consider for overrides — though that seemed unlikely.While convening the session required only majority support, Republicans in the House need the votes of Democrats or independents to reach the two-thirds required to successfully override a gubernatorial veto.———Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte.