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Key bill to keep Saints in the state wins passage in Louisiana House

BATON ROUGE, La. -- The Louisiana House has approved a central piece of Gov. Bobby Jindal's deal to keep the New Orleans Saints in the state.

The measure, sent to the Senate with a 70-23 vote by the House, would allow Saints owner Tom Benson to act as the state's landlord by letting the state lease office space from him for up to two decades.

Benson plans to buy and redevelop a vacant office complex and a vacant former mall next to the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.

Jindal agreed to rent office space from Benson in a deal to funnel money to the NFL team while limiting direct cash subsidies, which have reached $23.5 million per year.

For his part, Benson agreed to keep the Saints in New Orleans through 2025.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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