Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards announced yesterday that an agreement has been worked out to sell the New Orleans Saints to the A.N. Pritzker family and keep the NFL team in the Superdome for 30 years -- but it is contingent on state aid.
Edwards, at a Baton Rouge news conference, warned that "all bets are off" if he can't persuade the legislature to support the agreement. Edwards refused to give any details, except to say he would have to call a special session of the legislature, probably within 15 days.
Saints owner John Mecom Jr. of Houston and the Pritzkers of Chicago had been trying to make a deal for weeks.
"I can say the Mecom interests have reduced significantly the original terms in order to accommodate keeping the Saints in New Orleans," Edwards said.
He said the Pritzkers also raised their original offer.
Asked about state opposition to bailing out yet another New Orleans project in light of the financial failures of the 1984 World's Fair, Edwards said it is in the best interest of Louisiana to keep a professional football team in New Orleans. He put the total economic impact of home games at $132 million a year.
Mecom originally said he wanted $75 million for the franchise. The Pritzkers offered substantially less. One report was that the top bid was $60 million to $68 million, depending on exactly what is included.
The Pritzkers operate the Hyatt hotel next door to the domed stadium . . .
Mike Rozier, who -- with hardly an offseason after winning the 1983 Heisman trophy at Nebraska -- was less than a smash hit at running back for the USFL's late Pittsburgh Maulers, has signed a multiyear USFL contract (details withheld) with the Jacksonville Bulls . . .
Owner John Bassett of the Tampa Bay Bandits says wide receiver Cris Collinsworth is free to back out of his USFL deal and remain with the NFL Bengals. But Collinsworth says he plans to play for the Bandits.
Bassett said all he'd ask of Collinsworth is return of a $500,000 bonus paid last year as part of a five-year, $3 million agreement made in 1983, effective with expiration of his Cincinnati contract after 1984.
Bassett complained that Collinsworth is "beat up" from the Bengals' 1984 season.
"He can't bend his left leg. He was carried out on a stretcher in his last game. He takes great pride in his ability, and he doesn't want to look lousy. If it's in his best interest to get back to Cincinnati, he can go back. Our situation is very simple: if Collinsworth wants to go, he can go . . . I might take a little heat, but who cares?"