Lauscha: Saints, Pelicans should be “organization that brings people together”
NEW ORLEANS – Saints and Pelicans president Dennis Lauscha said Tuesday that in light of the current national anthem controversy, the area’s two local major league franchises should be the “organization that brings people together.”
“Our statement last week really is where we are,” Lauscha said at the weekly meeting of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation Quarterback Club at Rock ‘n’ Bowl. “Everyone in the organization wants everyone to stand for the national anthem. We think it’s the right thing to do.
“We get that there’s an issue. How can this organization solve this issue? What can we do to make the issues be addressed properly? Look at what the Pelicans did last year to solve some of the issues that are out there.
“After Katrina, we brought everybody in the community together. This issue, we’re splintering people away. We have to get a handle on that. We want to be the organization that brings people together.
“If there was an easy solution, we would have jumped on it. Our focus should be on protest to progress, protest to solution.”
Lauscha’s comments came shortly after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reportedly sent a letter to the league’s 32 teams regarding the anthem, which is expected to be a major topic at next week’s NFL owners’ meetings.
In spite of declining TV ratings for the NFL, ratings in the New Orleans area “continue to be very strong” for both the Saints and “even NFL ratings in general,” Lauscha said.
“I know we hear a lot that ratings are down,” said Lauscha, “but we still have very strong support with regards to viewership.”
Lauscha said that rather than pursue a new stadium at this time, the franchise has spent significant time looking at improvements for the 42-year-old Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
“There are some remarkable things we can do with this facility,” Lauscha said. “As long as we have some openness, we can do some special things with that building.”
The latest acquisition by the Benson family came earlier this year – Dixie Beer.
“We bought the brewery because we thought it was important to our city,” Lauscha said. “Profit is important, but what it can do for our city, economic development and jobs (is just as important).”
He added that Dixie’s revenue goals for the first year of operation by the Benson family “has been exceeded within the first four months.”
Lauscha said the Bensons are always looking at new local opportunities, and specifically identified Hubig’s Pies as one company that has been investigated.
“There are some really iconic brands in New Orleans, and if you can put the resources behind those iconic brands, we can bring it back,” Lauscha said. “Our teams will only be as vibrant as this community. We have to constantly re-invest in this community.”
The Saints and Pelicans continue to support amateur sports throughout Louisiana.
“We just helped on two (football) fields – St. Augustine’s practice field and the Tad Gormley field,” Lauscha said. We have two basketball courts going in, one in north Louisiana and one in south Louisiana. We’re going to continue to support both the public and private schools.”
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Lenny has been involved in college athletics since 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;…