Hurricane Damage to Superdome Forcing Saints to Move Opener
While Hurricane Katrina thankfully did not cause nearly as much damage as forecasters had predicted, this morning’s damage to the Superdome roof may leave the New Orleans Saints without a home as the NFL season approaches.
American football’s New Orleans Saints could be marching out of the storm-damaged Superdome and moving next week’s workouts for their season opener to Texas because of damage here from Hurricane Katrina. Two holes were punched in the roof of the 80,000-seat domed stadium Monday as people took refuge inside, trying to escape the hurricane’s fury. Flooding and wind damage was expected to take a heavy toll on the surrounding area.
The National Football League club flew Sunday to San Jose, California, to escape the storm’s wrath. The Saints play their final pre-season exhibition game at Oakland on Thursday before returning here to assess the damage. “Our plans for flying home will be determined once we see what kind of condition the city is in,” Saints spokesman Greg Nensel said. “We are all hoping for the best for the city and the people that remain.”
Club officials were looking at conducting next week’s workouts, ahead of their September 11 opener at Carolina, in Houston or Dallas, or possibly at college facilities in Shreveport or Lafayette, depending on the damage in New Orleans. The Saints’ home opener against the New York Giants on September 18 will be played, but whether the game is played in the Superdome will depend upon the recovery of the city and stadium over the next three weeks.
Relocating the game to another city would not be unprecedented. On October 27, 2003, the San Diego Chargers lost 26-10 to Miami in Tempe, Arizona, while their home stadium was being used as a shelter for wildfire evacuation victims. The Saints were forced to relocate workouts to San Antonio for a week last season when Hurricane Ivan struck the area, although they were able to host San Francisco that week as scheduled.
While inconvenient for the club and perhaps costly for vendors and others counting on the Saints’ eight annual home games, it’s pretty trivial considering what might have been.