SAN ANTONIO -- The New Orleans Saints will head back to
their home state for four games at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge,
La., and will play three others in San Antonio's Alamodome, their
headquarters since being displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
While the team and league settled that matter Monday, most of
the specifics are still being determined. Ticket plans are being
worked out, too, as are ways to tie proceeds to the relief effort.
Many of the Saints are living in a hotel across an interstate
from the Alamodome. So they'll have a short commute for games Oct.
2 or 3 against Buffalo, Oct. 16 or 17 against Atlanta and Dec. 24,
25 or 26 against Detroit.
The team will travel to the LSU campus for games Oct. 30 or 31
against Miami, Nov. 6 or 7 against Chicago, Dec. 4 or 5 against
Tampa Bay, and Dec. 17, 18 or 19 against Carolina.
The Saints seemed please with the split, which enables them to
reach out to fellow Louisiana residents trying to recover from the
devastating storm while also showing appreciation for the
hospitality they've received in Texas.
"I think the fact of what San Antonio did for us -- we had no
other place to go where something like this was set up -- that's
what made this happen," Saints owner Tom Benson said.
Speaking publicly for the first time since the hurricane, Benson
repeatedly deflected discussions about the team's future.
"We're not going to worry about that today," he said, adding
that his only long-term goal is getting the Saints to the Super
Bowl this season.
After spending last week getting settled into a new routine in
San Antonio, coach Jim Haslett began to like the idea of playing in
"It's more of a travel issue," he said. "I know what their
agenda was, to play as many games as possible in our home state.
Our players like that, too. ...
"I'm not really worried about the location," he said. "Our
first concern is just to win football games."
No decision was made on the site of potential Saints home
playoff games this season.
Agreement on the schedule was reached after a meeting Monday in
Baton Rouge involving Benson, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, LSU
chancellor Sean O'Keefe and other school officials.
"We had an excellent meeting this morning and quickly developed
a dual consensus," Tagliabue said. "The first was to continue to
give priority to the needs of the region and the second to the
scheduling of Saints games in a way that made sense under the total
circumstances. ... We also appreciate the cooperation of the
Alamodome officials and the hospitality of the people of San
Antonio for their support of the Saints at this difficult time."
The Saints won their season opener 23-20 at Carolina on Sunday.
Their first home game was set for this coming Sunday, but was moved
to Monday night and will be played at Giants Stadium against the
Giants. Saints season-ticket holders and anyone who had purchased
tickets for the Giants-Saints game at the Superdome were given
first call for tickets to the relocated game. After that, however,
Giants season-ticket holders were given priority, meaning it will
be a true road game for the Saints.
The manager of the Superdome has said it will take months before
the building's future can be determined. It's possible to stadium
will be torn down, leaving the Saints to find a new home.
During Hurricane Katrina, with thousands inside seeking refuge,
three large holes were blown through the roof. In all, about 70
percent of the roof failed and water poured into the building
during the storm, along with debris.
Benson has a home in the San Antonio area and for decades owned
car dealerships in the city. He urged local fans to fill every seat
and he encouraged the networks to bring the games to a national
audience to "give this city great recognition for what they've
done for the New Orleans Saints."
"It's most important for there to be capacity crowds to attend
every game we have here," Benson said. "It could make me proud,
not only of our football team, but show what kind of city you have
Henry Cisneros, a former San Antonio mayor and former Cabinet
member in the Clinton administration, attended Benson's news
conference and said he expects a great turnout.
"I think San Antonio will fill the Alamodome three times," he
The stadium seats roughly 65,000 for football.