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GULF COAST ATHLETES
Katrina struck one of the nation's athletic hotbeds, birthplace of more than 100 current NFL, NBA and MLB players and coaches, including Steve McNair, Marshall Faulk, Peyton and Eli Manning, Avery Johnson, Antonio McDyess and Andy Pettitte. The storm destroyed the boyhood home of Packers QB Brett Favre (above) in Kiln, Miss.
Sports dollars have been essential to New Orleans's tourist-driven economy: The 2002 Super Bowl had an estimated impact of $374 million, the 2003 Final Four $100 million and the 2005 Sugar Bowl $209 million. The Saints generate $402 million in annual spending and the Hornets $105 million. For now, all such money--and revenue from minor league baseball, local college athletics, horse racing and nonsports events at the Superdome--has vanished.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
The team has moved its operations to San Antonio and at week's end was considering three options for this season: playing its home games at LSU's Tiger Stadium or San Antonio's Alamodome, or playing all 16 games on the road. Its Week 2 game against the Giants has already been shifted from New Orleans to Giants Stadium.
NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
The front office fled to Houston and is working at the Rockets' Toyota Center. The NHL's Nashville Predators have offered their home as an alternative to New Orleans Arena; LSU's Maravich Center and Oklahoma City's Ford Center are other possibilities.
As evacuees poured into Baton Rouge, making it Louisiana's largest city, the university turned its basketball arena into a hospital and its ballpark into a processing center. With the Tigers' football opener against North Texas postponed, players logged long hours as emergency volunteers (page 78).
Fall sports were canceled at three historically black schools in New Orleans (Dillard, Xavier and Southern at New Orleans) and also at Loyola. Tulane's football team moved to Dallas and had its game at Southern Miss (whose team fled to Memphis) called off. Other football postponements included Southern--McNeese State and Alcorn State--Grambling.
BCS officials are debating where the Jan. 2, 2006, game will be played if--as expected--the Superdome is unusable. Possible locations for the bowl's 72nd rendition: LSU's Tiger Stadium, Independence Stadium in Shreveport and the Alamodome in San Antonio.
Virtually every school sports event from New Orleans to Mobile was canceled last week. More than 250 football games were called off, including 163 in Mississippi. Louisiana officials said Katrina could wipe out all fall sports for New Orleans area schools. Thousands of displaced athletes began transferring to schools across the Southeast.
The 30-year-old stadium--which has hosted four Final Fours and six Super Bowls--has become a symbol of disaster and death: The 25,000 evacuees housed there couldn't wait to escape. Using it for future games seems unthinkable. But is anyone willing to build the Saints a new home, at a cost of up to $600 million?
The Triple A New Orleans Zephyrs, a Nationals affiliate, scrubbed an Aug. 27 home doubleheader to escape Katrina and played the season's final eight games on the road. Spared from flooding, their home field was a staging area for relief efforts. Two hundred miles away in Pearl, the Double A Mississippi Braves (right) canceled their final four games.
Besides tearing the Superdome roof, Katrina flooded the City Park Golf Course, the Fair Grounds horse track, Tad Gormley Stadium (home to football games and the 1992 U.S. Olympic track trials), and the nation's oldest lawn tennis club, all in New Orleans. It also damaged the Mississippi Coast Coliseum, a minor league hockey arena in Biloxi; the TPC of Louisiana, in Avondale, which hosts the PGA Tour's Zurich Classic; and the Annandale Golf Club of Madison, Miss., site of next month's Southern Farm Bureau Classic.