Why New Orleans Saints Home Games in Tiger Stadium is a Win-Win for LSU

Glen West

It's been 15 years since the New Orleans Saints hosted an NFL game in Tiger Stadium and following the events over the last 72 hours, it's not a far-fetched idea to think it could happen again. On Tuesday afternoon, ESPN insider Adam Schefter broke the news that Saints officials have been in contact with LSU officials about potentially playing a few home games in Baton Rouge this fall. 

The news comes on the heels of New Orleans mayor LaToya Cantrell electing to not open up the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for fans. For the time being, only friends and family are permitted inside the Superdome to watch the Saints. Currently there are 15 NFL teams who have opened their gates for fans, the most recent being Philadelphia earlier this week. 

Multiple LSU officials have confirmed the Saints' desire to host home games in Tiger Stadium until Cantrell allows for fans in the Superdome. 

"LSU has been gracious and enthusiastic regarding hosting our future games, and we very much appreciate their partnership," Saints official Greg Bensel told ESPN. "We have also discussed the possibility of moving our home games to LSU with the NFL and they are aware of our exploring this option.

"Obviously, our overwhelming preference is to play our games in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with partial fan attendance, but there has been no indication from the city on when, or if, this might be approved."

As recently as Thursday morning, Cantrell was asked about the possibility of Saints games being played in front of fans in Baton Rouge. 

"I don't have any concerns at all," Cantrell said. "I think that could be a great place temporarily. We are looking forward to the day we can welcome back fans to the Dome. But right now it's staff, family and friends of family."

The decision, if approved, would be a huge win for the LSU athletic department. With LSU having to limit its capacity to 25% due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the athletic department's revenue is set to take a steep hit financially. Ticket sales alone in 2018-19 made up for 40% of the department's total football revenue. 

In a letter sent to the Tiger Athletic Foundation in early August, athletic director Scott Woodward said that the financial impact of reduced seating this season would result in tens of millions of lost revenue for the athletic department. 

"The financial realities of the spread of COVID-19 on our program are significant," Woodward wrote. 

With the addition of a few Saints games in Tiger Stadium, the LSU athletic department could receive a significant pool of newfound funds. LSU played its home opener against Mississippi State at 25% capacity, or a little over 20,000 fans. The impact of having Saints home games in Baton Rouge would not only be great for the school but for the local businesses as well. 

Exactly how many fans would be allowed in Tiger Stadium would be a decision the Saints would have to coordinate with the NFL as well as the state so there are plenty of moving parts to turn this idea into reality. 

"Should they choose to come, the Saints and Saints fans will be required to adhere to the same guidelines put in place for college football games -- social distancing with 25% occupancy, required masks, and no tailgating,'' Baton Rouge mayor Sharon Broome said. "If we all do our part, we can begin to return to normalcy."

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