NFL: Saints hope to be home for opener
INDIANAPOLIS ó The New Orleans Saints just want to go home.
After moving the team to Indianapolis this past weekend to avoid the wrath of Hurricane Gustav, general manager Mickey Loomis said Monday the Saints plan to return to their home base later this week if officials permit it.
Until then, they’ll stay in Indy, suddenly the home of two NFL teams.
By Sunday, when they’re scheduled to host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the season opener, the Saints hope to be playing in front of a packed house inside the Louisiana Superdome.
“We want to be one of the first ones back because we want to play that game and lift the spirits of our city after what’s been a tough week,” Loomis told reporters in a hastily called news conference at an Indianapolis hotel. “It’s really dependent on the city and the infrastructure and all that, so I hope we can play there Sunday.”
Loomis said players, coaches and staff members reported no injuries to family members.
But the scenario is a familiar one for the again displaced Saints.
They were forced to evacuate in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina flooded 80 percent of New Orleans. The Saints moved their practice site to San Antonio, split home games between San Antonio and Baton Rouge, La., and waited eight months to reopen the Superdome after a $200 million repair project.
This time, they sought a facility that would allow them to practice, hold team meetings and watch film like a normal week. And since the Colts practice at their own facility, rather than the city’s new $720 million Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis was a good fit.
Like government officials, the Saints also changed their evacuation plan. Players were allowed to take family members out of town before leaving New Orleans.
“That was one of the lessons we learned in 2005,” Loomis said. “If a guy wants to leave and drive his family out, that’s OK. We said ‘Send them on their way and then come back to facility.’ I think that worked well.”
BATON ROUGE, La. ó Crossing the Mississippi River on the Horace Wilkinson Bridge, heading east into Baton Rouge well before... read more