Due to Hurricane Ida, the New Orleans Saints will need to relocate for the foreseeable future. While the team relocated to Dallas to practice at AT&T Stadium and TCU, the Saints will instead be playing their Week 1 home game against the Green Bay Packers in Jacksonville. How the Saints got to this decision was unique and kind of genius.
According to NOLA.com‘s Jeff Duncan, the Saints took into consideration a few things before choosing Jacksonville. First, the Saints were required to find an NFL stadium (since it’s wired for replay communication with the League office) and that it needed to stick with the 4:25 pm et time slot for Fox’s Game of the Week.
Next, the Saints looked for a stadium that was not only available for Week 1 but would be relatively close to New Orleans. Dallas was the logical choice since the team was already in Dallas but a previously scheduled concert later in the week prevented them from playing Sunday. Week 1 unavailability also eliminated Houston, Atlanta, Carolina, and Tennessee.
Florida became a logical target given that all three NFL stadiums were available on Sunday. Then it came down to finding the stadium that would give the Saints the best home field advantage. That meant making it as tough as possible for Green Bay fans to make the trip from Wisconsin to attend the game.
The Saints were familiar with Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium and own a 13-7 all-time record there, but team officials were concerned a game at their NFC South rivals’ home field could attract too many Bucs-turned-Packers fans, potentially transforming it into a hostile environment.
Likewise, Miami was downgraded because of its attractiveness as a destination location.
Think about it. If you were a Packers fan, where would you rather travel? South Beach? Ybor City? Or Jacksonville?
The Saints even took it a step further. They had a staffer look up Green Bay flights on Expedia and compare the difference in costs and itineraries between Jacksonville, Miami and Tampa. Predictably, Jacksonville was the most difficult and costly destination for Packers fans.
There you go. The Saints are heading to Jacksonville because it’s not an attractive vacation destination and it was a more expensive/difficult flight. At least they got Week 1 covered.