When Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast region in 2005, it forced the New Orleans Saints to play all their games on the road that season.
The 2005 Saints played a ‘‘home’’ game in New York against the Giants, three games in San Antonio, TX, and four games in Baton Rouge, LA.
Hurricane Ida was an eerily similar storm that ravaged many of the same areas last weekend. The Category 4 storm did not damage the Superdome, as Katrina heavily did in 2005. Nor did the stadium need to be used as a shelter, as it tragically did in the aftermath of Katrina.
Ida's fury did force the Saints to evacuate the city and move team operations to Dallas, TX. Earlier this week, the team announced that it will remain in Texas through at least September because of the damage and power outages caused by the hurricane.
New Orleans will conduct practices on the campus of TCU. However, scheduling conflicts because of a September 15 concert in AT&T Stadium will not allow the Saints to play their Sept. 12 regular-season opener against Green Bay in Dallas.
Instead, the Saints-Packers clash for Sept. 12 has been moved to Jacksonville, FL.
Fortunately, in this case, the Saints were only scheduled to play two home games over the first seven weeks of the season and none in September after the opener. New Orleans will be at Carolina on September 19 and at New England on September 26.
By the end of September, the Saints are planning to be back in their facilities. More importantly, that will mean that the thousands of residents in the area have had power restored and can hopefully resume life with a sense of normalcy.
If disaster cleanup extends into October, the Saints will face further scheduling challenges. Perhaps also meaning that they could ‘‘host'' another game in Jacksonville.
Their next home game is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 3, against the New York Giants.. They’ll be back on the road the following week for an Oct. 10 meeting against Washington.
After a bye week, the Saints are again on the road for a Monday night clash at Seattle on Oct. 25. That will be followed by two scheduled home games against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Oct. 31 and Atlanta Falcons on Nov. 7.
It would be a worst-case scenario, on many levels, if Gulf Coast cleanup extends for an additional month and keeps the Saints out of the facility. However, let’s examine some of the other venues that could be available if New Orleans needs to play more games in another location.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 3 - GIANTS
- Carolina at Dallas
- Jacksonville - Bye
- Tampa Bay at New England
- Houston at Buffalo
- Atlanta vs. Washington
Unless the date of their game against the Giants were changed, the AT&T Stadium in Dallas is again unavailable if New Orleans were not back in their facilities by October. Even if the game were changed to Saturday or Monday, that would still create big challenges for the facility.
The most logical solution might be to return to Jacksonville, where the Saints had already played one game.
Tampa, FL is another possibility, with the Buccaneers playing on the road that weekend. It’s a reasonably close venue that the Saints are familiar with, because they play their once a year as division rivals.
Another option could be Houston, the closest possibility at 348 driving miles from New Orleans. The Texans will also play on the road that weekend.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 31 - BUCCANEERS
- Dallas at Minnesota
- Jacksonville at Seattle
- Houston vs. L.A. Rams
- Atlanta vs. Carolina
The most logical solution here would be to simply flip the home-away games between these NFC South rivals.
New Orleans is scheduled to play at Tampa Bay in a Prime Time matchup on Sunday, December 19.
If logic fails, then the Dallas facilities would finally be available, with the Cowboys on the road. Jacksonville would also again be available.
Dallas seems to make the most sense if the league doesn't switch the home/away dates between the teams. The Saints have been practicing in Dallas since displaced by Ida last weekend.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 7 - FALCONS
- Dallas vs. Denver
- Jacksonville vs. Buffalo
- Tampa Bay - Bye
- Houston at Miami
As with the Buccaneers, the solution that makes by far the most sense is to switch the home and away dates between the division foes. The Saints are scheduled to travel to Atlanta for the regular season finale on January 9, 2022.
The Cowboys facilities will again be unavailable, unless the game were moved to Saturday or Monday.
For the first time during this potential stretch, Jacksonville's stadium will also not be available on the scheduled date of the game.
Again, if simple logic fails, both Houston and Tampa will be available to host. Atlanta and New Orleans are equally familiar with the Buccaneers facilities, even if as visiting division rivals.
Hurricane Katrina was an unimaginable tragedy that affected countless lives. Among the less important effects on the grand scale was causing the New Orleans Saints to spend the entire 2005 season on the road.
The Saints were much better organized in dealing with Hurricane Ida in 2021, an equally devastating storm.
New Orleans is planning on returning home within the next month, but may have to make some contingency plans if cleanup of the region takes a bit longer than expected.