The New Orleans Saints are meeting with LSU officials to discuss hosting future Saints games at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.
The Saints have been working with the City of New Orleans and Mayor LaToya Cantrell to host fans in a limited capacity at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, but the team is yet to receive permission. Saints Senior Vice President of Communications Greg Bensel said on Tuesday that the team had received no indication from the city on when or if they will receive approval.
LSU is permitted to host around 25,000 fans per game. Bensel said the team’s preference is to host fans in a limited capacity in New Orleans. Multiple players who spoke following Monday’s win over the Chargers expressed their desire to begin playing before a live audience.
The team has received approval from Governor John Bel Edwards to begin hosting fans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with a limited capacity of around 25 percent. The NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell have also written emails requesting that Cantrell allow fans to enter the Superdome.
There are more than 500 jobs directly tied to the Saints playing football games in New Orleans.
Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory has extended an invitation to host Saints home games with fans in the stands.
The city says it does not feel it is safe to play games inside of a domed stadium with a fixed roof. The NFL and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills contend that properly ventilated domed stadiums are equally safe as outdoor stadiums. The Saints, NFL and Sills have offered to meet with city officials to present their evidence.
City leadership used science, data and evidence to set standards for reopening the Superdome to fans. Those marks have been exceeded statewide and New Orleans currently has one of the lowest positivity rates among NFL cities.
There are currently no updated benchmarks to meet to move forward with opening the venue in a limited capacity.
“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,” Cantrell spokesperson Beau Tidwell said according to NOLA.com.
Currently, 14 NFL teams are hosting fans, with five more who have conducted protocol testing and are now preparing to host fans. No outbreaks have yet been attributed to other NFL games, though none of the venues have fixed roofs. Carolina, Atlanta and Tampa Bay are all currently hosting fans.
Hey Nick, any idea what the timeline is on this? Is hosting Carolina at Tiger Stadium a possibility now or is that too short of a window to make it happen logistically?