Lauscha: Saints ‘feeling pretty good’ heading into 2018
NEW ORLEANS – Five days before the Saints open the 2018 season, the goal on Airline Drive – and in 31 other buildings across the country – is the same: to hold the Lombardi Trophy in February.
“That’s been the focus,” Lauscha said Tuesday at the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation Quarterback Club presented by Home Bank at Rock ‘n’ Bowl. “We’re feeling pretty good, on the field and off the field.”
Lauscha noted that the Saints not only won the NFC South last year, but were No. 1 in game-day satisfaction around the league.
To maintain that satisfaction, the Saints continue to look at ways to renovate the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
“We’re fully supportive of the (Dome),” Lauscha said. “We have to figure out how to make it through the next generation.”
The improvements aren’t limited to the fans.
“We’ve invested over $5 million in our training areas,” Lauscha said. “We have the most innovative, cutting-edge technology when it comes to training. We’re trying to be as proactive as we can with the investments we’ve made there.
Both the Saints and Pelicans organization continue to invest in youth programs.
“We continue to put football fields in the state, in the region, to get kids involved with football,” Lauscha said. We’re very encouraged. We’re sinking an enormous amount of money into growing youth basketball.”
While New Orleans is one of the smallest markets in both the NFL and NBA, that’s not a hindrance.
“Our viewership is very strong and very robust,” Lauscha said. “People say, ‘You’re the 51st market.’ If you look at the southeast, it’s about 7 million people and they’re all Saints fans. About 33 percent of our business comes from 100 miles outside New Orleans. Hopefully that can translate to basketball over time.”
The Pelicans will open training camp in three weeks.
“The good news is, I do think we’ve gotten better,” Lauscha said. “The bad news is, I think everyone else in the (Western Conference) also got better.”
The announcement of a G League team will be coming in the next couple of weeks, Lauscha said.
This will be the first full season for both teams without Tom Benson, who died in March.
“He meant so much to so many of our organization,” Lauscha said. “I was sitting at Mass – we have Mass before every football game – and the gospel … hit me. The man worked till he was 90 years old. That’s the type of organization he left us. Even though the master is gone, it’s going to be up to us to keep working.
“Mrs. Benson is doing an outstanding job. She’s at every football game and she’s been making almost all the basketball games too. She’s committed to it and we’re committed to it.”
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Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…