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Pleased Tagliabue: Progress continues on Saints' return

NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue continues to be optimistic about the future of the Saints in New Orleans.

Tagliabue spoke Tuesday to New Orleans business leaders who have committed to helping support the Saints by purchasing suites, tickets and sponsorships. It was his third visit to New Orleans and fifth to Louisiana since the Saints were displaced for the 2005 season by Hurricane Katrina.

"The dream of coming back is becoming a reality," Tagliabue said. "A lot of the uncertainty about the future has been cleared up.

"There has been real positive support from the leadership in the business community. The Saints can be a magnet for other people and businesses to return to the community and be part of the recovery."

The NFL has provided a $20-million grant to help speed up repairs to the Superdome, which is scheduled to reopen for New Orleans' home opener Sept. 24 against Atlanta.

Tagliabue said he received a positive report Tuesday about progress in the repair work.

"We're facing extraordinary challenges," he said. "But out of extraordinary challenges come extraordinary opportunities and out of extraordinary opportunities come extraordinary achievements."

Tagliabue is scheduled to be in Mississippi today to meet with Gov. Haley Barbour and business leaders from that state.

"We're not going to sit back and wait for the city to recover," said Saints owner Tom Benson. "We plan to be leaders in the rebuilding of the city."