Audit: State pays high lease rates to Saints owner
BATON ROUGE - Louisiana state agencies are paying above-market rates to rent office space from New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson and $625,000 for space it's not using.
Those are the findings of an audit released Monday by Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera, whose office reviewed the lease deal.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration renegotiated the state's lease with the Saints in 2009. The deal keeps the NFL team in New Orleans through 2025 and scrapped direct cash incentive payments.
As part of the agreement, Louisiana entered into a long-term lease to rent office space from Benson. The audit says the state pays annual rent of about $7.5 million and another $625,000 for vacant space.
The Jindal administration defended the deal, saying it saved the state money and kept an economic driver for the state.