Shreveport City Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch says the people of her city don’t want to build an arena for a G-League basketball team owned affiliated with the New Orleans Pelicans.
“I hope Pensacola gets the team,” she said in a phone interview late Tuesday night. “A small group of people who stand to pocket a lot of money for this are pushing the team, but the majority of the city does not want them here.”
Lynch is a seasoned politician. Prior to being elected to the Shreveport City Council in 2014, she served on the Caddo Parish in Louisiana. Lynch was elected president of the National Association of Black County Officials.
She said, “I’ve only received two emails supporting the mayor’s plan, and this were from people who will benefit from the deal.”
Last month, Shreveport Mayor Ollie Taylor presented to the city council her plan for a $150-million development for her downtown that would include a 3,200 arena that could host the New Orleans Pelicans’ G-League basketball team and a training facility of the New Orleans Saints. Inweekly has made several phone calls to Mayor Taylor and left voice messages. She didn’t return any of the calls.
Lynch was unimpressed with Taylor’s proposal and with presentations made by the Pelicans officials. “I’ve seen lots of presentations (over the years), and there’s nothing there.”
Still the councilwoman believes Taylor’s plan will get the necessary votes for approval because she believes at least four council members either stand to profit from it when they leave office or they see the vote helping them when they run for mayor. Lynch said the expensive plan is a mistake because the city has struggled to provide basic services since the GM plant closed in 2012.
“We need to fix roads, provide clean water, get our crime down and find raises for employees,” she told Inweekly. “My hope and belief is we should take care of what we have.”
The councilwoman said that the people of Shreveport aren’t big Saints fans. “There are two Louisianas – one below I-10, the other above it. We’re more East Texas and Dallas Cowboy fans.”
Lynch isn’t impressed with Tom Benson, the 90-year-old owner of the Pelicans and Saints. There is still resentment in parts of the state about the “sweetheart deal” Benson got to keep the NFL team in the New Orleans Superdome. She wonders about his commitment to the NBA development team and Shreveport. She doesn’t believe the team will give the city a 25-year commitment for the new arena.
“There’s a reason why only two cities are left in the running for the team,” she said. “All the others realized it wasn’t such a good deal.”
Lynch added, “The best thing for Shreveport would be for Pensacola to get the Pelicans.”