The New Orleans Saints are looking to play their home games in Tiger Stadium at LSU, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The news comes in light of New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s denial of fan attendance in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
With New Orleans shut down and its Mayor Latoya Cantrell repeatedly declining to allow the Saints to have limited-capacity fans, team officials are meeting today with LSU officials about hosting upcoming games at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La, per Saints' official Greg Bensel.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 13, 2020
LSU has taken a keen interest in hosting New Orleans’ home games in Baton Rouge, according to Saints spokesman Greg Bensel. Bensel said the team would preferably play in the Superdome above all else with partial attendance allowed.
NFL attendance has varied from team to team depending on their states' COVID-19 protocols. New Orleans is among the teams that have not been allowed to have any fans in attendance for its games.
“While the Saints’ request for a special exception to the city’s COVID-19 guidelines remains under consideration, allowing 20K people in an indoor space presents significant public health concerns,” Cantrell said in a statement.
“At present, no NFL stadium in the country with a fixed-roof facility is allowing such an exception. We will continue to monitor the public health data, but cannot set an artificial timeline for how and when conditions may allow for the kind of special exemption being requested.”
Known for being one of the toughest places to play in the NFL, the Saints no longer have "dome-field advantage." The rowdy crowds that are drawn to the Superdome are something the team is accustomed to.
The players feed off the crowd's energy on every play. They remain calm before the ball is snapped and cheer when the offense makes a big play. The noise becomes deafening on defense, especially on third downs, with some players encouraging the crowd to get even louder.
The Saints last played in Tiger Stadium in 2005 following Hurricane Katrina. Four games were played in Baton Rouge while the other half of the home schedule was played in UTSA’s Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
LSU currently allows Tiger Stadium to operate at 25% capacity for football games. With five home games remaining on its schedule, New Orleans is weighing all options to navigate around the city's COVID-19 restrictions.
New Orleans has taken the status of attendance on a game-by-game basis and has not ruled out the possibility of allowing fans at home games toward the end of the season.
The Saints have been cooperative with city officials and have abided by their guidelines. It is unlikely that these guidelines will change anytime soon unless New Orleans begins to see a steady decrease in cases.