Saints dismiss executive Fielkow
SAN ANTONIO - The New Orleans Saints fired vice president Arnold Fielkow on Monday, dismissing the executive who had been widely credited with orchestrating a string of sellouts spanning several seasons.
"My family and I are upset and greatly disturbed by today's events," Fielkow said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Monday night.
He added that Saints owner Tom Benson's "actions were both unwarranted and unfair."
Fielkow said his lawyers had advised him not discuss the matter further for the time being.
"I'll have more to say later," Fielkow said.
Fielkow confirmed a report on WWL-TV's Web site that he was called into Benson's office and given 5 minutes to turn in his resignation. The report said Benson offered to pay Fielkow the remainder of his contract if, within 5 minutes, Fielkow signed an agreement to keep his dealings with the team confidential. When Fielkow refused, he was fired.
The Saints declined comment on the firing beyond their initial one-sentence news release stating that Fielkow was no longer associated with the team.
Fielkow was the senior management official in team departments including marketing and sales, governmental affairs, community relations and youth programs.
His five full seasons with the team, dating to 2000, included a streak of 36 consecutive sellouts of the Louisiana Superdome. The Saints made the playoffs in only the first of those seasons.
Fielkow also was the team's lead negotiator on a 10-year lease of the Superdome that called for the state of Louisiana to pay Benson $187 million. The remainder of the lease, which was to run through 2010, is now in danger of being voided because of damage to the Superdome caused by Hurricane Katrina.
Fielkow was expected to be active in Baton Rouge, La., for a set of four Saints games at Tiger Stadium beginning Oct. 30.
Fielkow, meanwhile, has remained a strong proponent of Louisiana, publicly saying that he thought it was the right decision for the Saints to play more of this season's home games in Louisiana than anywhere else.
He has routinely praised Louisiana football fans as the best in football, even since the Saints' move to Texas.
After Hurricane Katrina left the Superdome unfit for football, the Saints played their first scheduled home game at New York, then their next two in San Antonio. The Saints have one final San Antonio home game following the four in Baton Rouge.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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