The New Orleans Saints will play? or where they will play?
The New Orleans Saints will play? or where they will play?
I've heard some rumblings about LSU being a destination as well.Quote:
Saints To Head To Texas After Final Preseason Game
August 31, 2005
SAN JOSE, California (Ticker) - The New Orleans Saints will not return home after their final preseason game in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Most of New Orleans was flooded by Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged the Gulf Coast and caused damage to the Louisiana Superdome.
After the Saints play their final preseason game Thursday night in Oakland, they will travel to San Antonio to begin preparation for the season opener at Carolina on September 11. The Saints practiced in San Antonio last year when Hurricane Ivan threatened New Orleans.
Parts of the roof on the Louisiana Superdome were ripped away by triple-digit wind speeds Monday as thousands of storm refugees huddled inside. New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin ordered a mandatory evacuation for the city's more than 500,000 residents and opened the Superdome as a shelter.
It is uncertain if the Superdome will be ready for the Saints' home opener on September 18 against the New York Giants.
The Superdome also is home to Tulane University, which has postponed the start of classes to September 7. The damage caused by Katrina also resulted in the postponement of Sunday's game between Tulane and Southern Mississippi until November 26.
Fifth-ranked Louisiana State postponed Saturday night's game against North Texas.
OK, found this
Saints exploring options after city's devastation
By SHELDON MICKLES
An aerial view of the Superdome and New Orleans Arena shows damage to the Dome's roof and the standing water caused by Hurricane Katrina. Displaced by Hurricane Katrina like hundreds of thousands of fellow New Orleanians, the Saints made plans Tuesday to temporarily set up operations in San Antonio following Thursday night's exhibition game with the Oakland Raiders.
The Saints fled to San Jose, Calif., on Sunday afternoon in advance of the killer storm that devastated New Orleans on Monday after forcing thousands of people to seek shelter in the Superdome.
The stadium's roof was heavily damaged when Katrina barreled through southeast Louisiana packing 145 mph winds. The storm left about 80 percent of New Orleans under water and catastrophic destruction in its wake.
Considering the condition of the city and stadium, Saints officials have been in contact with the NFL concerning options for the team to practice and continue preparing for its Sept. 11 regular-season opener at Carolina. The home opener against the New York Giants is scheduled for Sept. 18.
Saints and NFL officials said no decision has been made about games that may not be able to be played in the Superdome. Rumors began circulating Tuesday that the Saints would play at LSU, San Antonio, Houston or Jackson, Miss.
"As of right now, nothing has been decided about where we'll play our home games for the time being," said Greg Bensel, the Saints director of media & public relations. "We are hearing the same rumors, and nothing has been decided. That will be a decision by the team, the league and potential facility -- and that has not happened.
"Plus, we still need to see the extent of the damage to the Superdome. We are hoping for the best at this time."
However, it became increasingly unlikely that the Saints will be able to play at the Superdome at all this season as the situation deteriorated throughout the day Tuesday.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said Doug Thornton, a regional vice president for SMG, the company that manages the Superdome, told him it would be "very, very difficult for the Saints to play their home games here this season."
Team owner Tom Benson and General Manager Mickey Loomis have both been in communication with the league office while the Saints practice at San Jose State for the game with the Raiders.
Bensel said Tuesday the team would temporarily relocate to San Antonio, leaving immediately after the Raiders' game. The Saints spent three days in San Antonio in September 2004 when Hurricane Ivan took aim at New Orleans before veering off and striking the Florida Panhandle.
"While (New Orleans) is still not in any condition to have people back there, our plan is to set up camp in San Antonio like we did for Hurricane Ivan," Bensel said. "They are equipped to handle us."
Greg Aiello, the NFL's vice president of public relations, said the Saints also considered practicing in Houston or Dallas.
"We've been in contact with the Saints the past two days discussing the situation and options -- both for practicing after the Oakland game and for the possibility of relocating games," Aiello said. "The goal on both key issues -- where they practice and where they'll play if the Superdome is not available on Sept. 18 -- is to try and find a place as close as possible to New Orleans. That's what the Saints want."
Aiello said Art Shell, the NFL's senior vice president of football operations, has already had several conversations with the Saints about the situation and will assist them in any way the league can.
"We've formed an internal task force to deal with the various issues and will be meeting regularly starting tomorrow and working through it," Aiello said Tuesday. "We'll continue to talk to the Saints and the others that will be involved."
According to Aiello, the Saints don't have to practice and play in the same place.
"But, the goal is to play as close to New Orleans as possible," Aiello said.
Aiello said the league office contacted LSU officials on Monday, but did not know what their answer was. He said LSU was merely one of the places identified as a potential game site and emphasized that no decision had been made.
Aiello said it was unlikely the Saints will have to play all of their games at the home stadiums of their opponents. But, he said the league has no formal policy or procedure in place for teams that are affected by natural disasters.
"We haven't focused that far down the line yet," Aiello said. "Again, if the games can't be played in New Orleans, every effort will be made to play as close as possible (to New Orleans) so Saints fans can attend."
NFL games in the past have been affected by hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires, he said, but none of the magnitude of this situation.
"I feel terrible for the people down there," Aiello said. "It's amazing." Advocate staff writer Joe Gyan Jr. contributed to this report.
By DAVE GOLDBERG
There is only one certainty about the New Orleans Saints' future: They will live and work out of the Marriott Riverwalk in San Antonio for a while.
Beyond that, question marks abound. It's highly unlikely they'll be able to hold their home opener Sept. 18 at the Superdome - and they may not be able to play there at all this season after the stadium was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.
So that first game against the New York Giants could be at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Or at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La. Or even at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala.
And all of those sites could host other home games for the Saints, who escaped the hurricane by flying with their families last weekend to San Jose, Calif. New Orleans plays at Oakland on Thursday night in its final exhibition game.
While the Saints and NFL officials have been discussing a variety of alternatives, they haven't talked yet with many of the people at the proposed sites.
"We can say is LSU an option, yeah, but is it an option with them?" Saints spokesman Greg Bensel said Wednesday by phone from San Jose. "That's the next hurdle. We haven't crossed that hurdle yet."
Only one hurdle has been crossed.
Following the Raiders game, the Saints will go to San Antonio, where they will stay at the same hotel they stayed at last season when Hurricane Ivan chased them out of New Orleans in the second week of the regular season.
The Saints will also use the same practice facilities at Trinity University, so they will have, as Bensel put it, "a certain comfort level with where we are."
That would seem to make the Alamodome, which holds 65,000 for football, a logical alternative, although it's about 550 miles from New Orleans, farther than the NFL would like.
But at this point, no one really knows the options.
Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and league officials have discussed the situation over the past few days. Location hasn't been the most important topic.
"We've been talking about how we as a league can assist with relief efforts," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. "Not only for Saints players and officials and their families, but also for a lot of other players in the league who live or have families in the region."
The Saints aren't the only ones in sports affected by the damage done to the 65,000-seat Superdome.
Bowl Championship Series spokesman Bob Burda said Sugar Bowl officials hope to meet within the next few weeks to talk about what to do with the game scheduled for Jan. 2 in the Superdome.
"It's just too early on their end to even speculate," said Burda, adding that bowl officials had been in contact with BCS coordinator Kevin Weiberg.
It's unlikely officials would want to let the Sugar Bowl leave Louisiana, even for just a year. Independence Stadium, home of the Independence Bowl, in Shreveport has been renovated in recent years and holds about 53,000. Tiger Stadium could also be a plausible option, with a capacity of almost 92,000.
None of the options for the Saints seem ideal, including the unlikely scenario of playing their entire schedule on the road.
Switching their home opener to the Meadowlands is a problem because the Giants share their stadium with the New York Jets, who are scheduled to play Miami at home that day.
There has been talk of using Reliant Stadium in Houston, but the Texans are home Sept. 18 to Pittsburgh.
Those hurdles could be overcome by playing games on Saturday or Monday, but it hardly seems like a palatable option to either the team or the league.
The last time a game was shifted on short notice was on Oct. 27, 2003, when the Chargers and Miami Dolphins met at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., after wildfires in southern California prevented the game from being played in San Diego. That was a regularly scheduled Monday night contest and no admission was charged - 73,000 people attended, far more than usually attend Arizona Cardinals games at the same venue.
But this is likely to be more than a one-shot deal and few of the alternatives seem particularly enticing.
Both the league and the Saints would like to stay as close to home as possible, although other stadiums are showing interest in having them.
Mayor Buddy Dyer of Orlando, Fla., proposed that the Saints try the little-used Citrus Bowl. There was no indication that the Saints were even familiar with that offer.
Even before the hurricane, the team has been negotiating with the state of Louisiana for a new stadium to replace the Superdome. Owner Tom Benson has suggested that without one, he might sell the franchise, leading to speculation that the Saints might be the team that fills the hole in Los Angeles left vacant when the Rams moved to St. Louis and the Raiders went back to Oakland after the 1994 season.
Yes, the Los Angeles Coliseum is among the sites suggested as a possibility for this season.
But all of that is speculation.
"We just don't know yet," Bensel said. "We really don't."