Saints, NFL, and City Face Dilemmas After Hurricane Ida

The New Orleans Saints, NFL, and City of New Orleans must address business questions after the destruction of Hurricane Ida.
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Owner Gayle Benson, EVP/GM Mickey Loomis, and the New Orleans Saints organization have not released an official statement regarding the impact of Hurricane Ida on the City of New Orleans and the rest of the southern Louisiana region.

Aug. 29 is not a particularly kind date for many Gulf Coast residents.  Sixteen years after Katrina, over 1 million citizens of Louisiana are left without power from Hurricane Ida's visit.  

The state's largest and most populated city, New Orleans, has no definite timetable for electrical power restoration. Hurricane Ida dealt a significant blow, and after the initial survey of the damage, citizens and businesses can expect a long time before normalcy returns.

Superdome before Hurricane Ida

THE BUSINESS REALITIES

The business realities for the New Orleans Saints, NFL, City of New Orleans, and the State of Louisiana are unavoidable. The NFL's 2021-22 regular season will begin within two weeks.  The critical questions for the Saints and City of New Orleans center around Week 1 vs. the Green Bay Packers at Caesars Superdome. 

Sean Payton addressed the elephant in the room with Saints reporters:

Can the team and city support hosting the Packers, fans, and broadcasting networks on Sunday, Sept. 12?  Or, perhaps, will the NFL and Saints seek to play the Week 1 contest at a different venue?  

The New Orleans Saints relocated to Dallas before Ida's arrival. Players, coaches, and administrators left their homes and, in some cases, families behind during the exodus.  Certainly, many will be allowed to return and secure safe accommodations for their families and loved ones until power is fully restored within the metropolitan area limits.

At the moment, the likelihood of the city, its infrastructure, and auxiliary businesses having the capability to support an NFL game is unlikely. Surveying possible damage to the event structure itself is another concern. During Hurricane Katrina, the Superdome was severely damaged. Millions were spent to repair the structure and allowed the Saints to return in September of 2006.  But no reports of significant damage to Caesars Superdome have been reported from the arena nor city officials.

Bourbon Street in New Orleans

SEVERAL QUESTIONS

If the New Orleans Saints cannot return for several weeks, will they temporarily operate from the Dallas Cowboys facility in Frisco, Texas or elsewhere?

Could the NFL consider rescheduling or forfeiting the game if another venue cannot be located for the season-opener on Sept. 12?

Will the NFL allow New Orleans time to recover and grant an exemption from the contest?

BACK TO BUSINESS

Today, the New Orleans Saints must continue their preparations to start the regular season as planned.  Head coach Sean Payton told reporters, "There's a good chance when we start up Monday (next week), it'll be somewhere other than Metairie."

According to the NFL, clubs must reduce rosters to a maximum of 53 players on the Active/Inactive List and submitted to the league before the 3:00 PM CT deadline on Aug. 31. Simultaneously with the roster reduction to 53 players, clubs with players in the categories of Active/Physically Unable to Perform or Active/Non-Football Injury or Illness must select one of the following options: place player on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform.

The most vital aspect of all scenarios is for the New Orleans Saints organization, families, and citizens of Louisiana to return home safely and in good health after the wrath of Hurricane Ida.  One thing about the citizens of the Gulf Coast and Who Dat Nation, is that they are resilient and tend to come together after natural disasters hit the Gulf Coast region.


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