After the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Ida, the New Orleans Saints are in search of a temporary home. As relief workers tackle the situation and aid the people of Louisiana, the Saints will seek refuge in their temporary home at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.
The Saints play the Green Bay Packers in Week 1 at Jacksonville. Ahead of their season opener, the front office is frantically looking for a temporary home where they can play the rest of their home games, and there is also a level of uncertainty surrounding the duration for which the Saints will need a temporary home. Louisiana is currently in a state of emergency. Moreover, the Saints spent an entire season playing in a temporary home after Hurricane Katrina.
A year in an empty stadium hurt the Saints. Playing in a temporary home stadium is another blow. They will 'host' the Packers on opening Sunday in Jacksonville. While the Saints will look to put their best foot forward in Week 1, here are three stadiums the Saints could use in 2021.
#1 - Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX
In 2005, the Saints sought refuge in Houston. Louisiana borders Texas to the west. It is a near enough locale for the Saints to move their operations. For its part, Reliant Stadium is a world-class facility that has hosted Super Bowls. Furthermore, moving to Houston would be good news for Saints fans as they will not need to travel too far to see their team play.
The Saints are on the road in Weeks 2 and 3. Their next scheduled home game is in Week 4. The Texans are on the road to Buffalo that same Sunday. The open slot could see the Saints use Reliant Stadium as a temporary home.
New Orleans is away from home in Week 5, and their bye week follows straight after that visit to Washington. The NFL won't need to shuffle the schedule too much if the Saints head to Texas.
#2 - Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL
Thinking outside the box, the Saints could look at the collegiate level for a temporary home. College games are played on a Saturday, which means they won't clash with NFL games. Moreover, Bryant-Denny Stadium is one of the great theaters in NCAA football. The Tuscaloosa Cathedral would be more than welcomed into the NFL, even on a temporary basis.
Furthermore, New Orleans is a four-hour drive from Tuscaloosa. Saints fans could make the trip, and the team could fly in to use the facilities while staying close to home. Bryant-Denny Stadium is an open-air arena, which may hinder the Saints as they are a dome team. Nonetheless, the Saints hierarchy should consider moving to Alabama for a temporary home.
#3 -, Mercedez Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
Finally, the Saints could move into Atlanta's Mercedes Benz Stadium. They could use the brand new arena as a temporary home. The Saints and Falcons are rivals, but Falcons owner Arthur Blank has donated money towards Hurricane Ida relief. Extraordinary circumstances require unique solutions. Despite the rivalry, the Saints using Atlanta as a temporary home makes sense.
The stadium has a roof, which is perfect for the Saints. They won't need to move too far from home either.
However, the logistics regarding the schedules are tricky. The Saints and Falcons are due to play home games in Week 4. One solution could be for one team to take a Week 4 bye. Both of them are off in Week 6. If the NFL opts for this plan, it would require a lot of sacrifice from the Falcons. They'd need to take the early bye, which would impact Atlanta on a 17-game schedule. Would Atlanta do that to accommodate a divisional rival? Don't hold your breath.