September 01, 2005

Katrina aftermath: N.O. Saints now homeless

With all the disaster and mayhem wrought by Hurricane Katrina and her aftermath, a lot of folks are not ready to think of football, even players for the New Orleans Saints, who face the Raiders in Oakland tonight.

The Saints players, personnel and their families bugged out prior to Katrina's landfall, and have been practicing in San Jose, CA this week in preparation for tonight's final pre-season game for both teams.

After tonight, the Saints will be headed for San Antonio. Saints owner Tom Benson has ties to the San Antonio community. The Saints used San Antonio as a base last year when Hurricane Ivan threatened the Crescent City.

The City of San Antonio has offered the use of the Alamodome as a base for the Saints this season, but the 500-plus mile distance may be more than NFL officials would prefer, even given the circumstances. The Saints' home, the Louisiana Superdome was pressed into service as a shelter for New Orleans residents who could not leave during Hurricane Katrina's passage. The Dome has been heavily damaged, both by the storm, and by the floodwaters now holding New Orleans under siege.

The Houston Texans have offered the use of Reliant Stadium, adjacent to the Astrodome - which has been pressed into use as a facility to house refugees. That idea is not without it's own problems, like the fact that both the Texans and Saints have home-openers scheduled for the same day, September 18.

LSU's Tiger Stadium has been mentioned, but the notion of playing back-to-back LSU and Saints games is problematic at best, not to mention the question of police protection, given that the University's resources have been taxed tremendously by the New Orleans disaster.

No one, least of all the Saints, wants to see them take their entire schedule on the road. Other stadiums that could become a temporary home for the Saints include Memphis' Liberty Bowl, Legion Field in Birmingham and the little-used Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

The AAA-affiliate of baseball's Washington Nationals, the New Orleans Zephyrs are fairly comfortable with finishing out their Pacific Coast League schedule on the road. Their home park, Zephyr Field, has been used as a staging area for rescue teams.

With the damage to the city as extensive as it is, there is a high liklihood that the New Orleans Hornets will play their NBA season elsewhere. No one has discussed the wheres or hows of that yet.

One other big thing that sports fans are thinking about is the Nokia Sugar Bowl, scheduled January 2, 2006 at the Superdome. At this point, the game technically is still scheduled, but no one in their right mind thinks the game - part of the Bowl Championship Series - will be played in New Orleans.

The only real conversation I've heard about it is the possibility of playing at Shreveport's Independence Bowl, but that stadium is much smaller than the Superdome.

If the game is played, I'd guess that it would move to one of a myriad of larger venues, including Atlanta's Georgia Dome, Houston's Reliant Stadium or even Dallas' Texas Stadium.

Posted by mhking at September 1, 2005 05:19 PM | TrackBack

Here is a quick link to, Hurricane Katrina African American Relief Resources. The site lists resources and assorted information for African Americans to assist African American communities, institutions and people devestated by Hurricane Katrina. Thank you.
Please pass it on.

Posted by: HenryBemis at September 1, 2005 06:57 PM

FYI : The date for the Nokia Sugar Bowl is January 2, 2006. Not January 6, 2006.

Posted by: Suze at September 4, 2005 12:32 AM
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