After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the NFL forced the Saints to move a home game against the Giants to Giants Stadium. New Orleans lost 27-10. Sean Payton became the team’s head coach the following season.
After Hurricane Ida hit New Orleans last weekend, the Saints had the decision of where to play their season opener.
“We’re conscious of everything when it comes to preparing for an opponent,” Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis said when asked about the selection process during a conference call with local reporters Wednesday. “There’s just so many variables. I don’t want to get into all of the variables. The main thing is to have a suitable place to play that both teams have access to.”
The NFL requires all games to be played in NFL stadiums because of replay communication.
With the Saints practicing at TCU in Fort Worth, their first choice was AT&T Stadium in Arlington since the Cowboys open the season in Tampa on Sept. 9. The Saints host the Packers on Sept. 12.
But the Cowboys’ home stadium is hosting a Los Bukis concert Sept. 15, ruling out their stadium.
Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayne reports the Saints considered every detail and put great thought into arriving at Jacksonville as their temporary home stadium.
All three Florida stadiums are available Sept. 12, and the Saints figured the state’s heat and humidity could give them an edge, according to Duncan. They looked up Aaron Rodgers‘ record in Florida and discovered he is 3-4 in his career with a 78.1 passer rating.
The Saints then began looking at which site would give them the closest thing to a home-field advantage, considering how well Packers fans travel.
They were concerned Tampa or Miami would serve as a potential destination location for Packers fans, according to Duncan, so they zeroed in on Jacksonville.
A staffer researched flights from Green Bay to Jacksonville, Miami and Tampa on Expedia, according to Duncan, and Jacksonville was the most expensive and presented the most challenging itinerary. That sold the Saints on TIAA Bank Field.
Packers fans still might show up en masse, but not for a lack of the Saints trying to make it as difficult as possible for them to get there from Wisconsin.