The New Orleans Saints are exploring the possibility of playing home games outside of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this season.
The Saints on Tuesday confirmed their interest in using Louisiana State University's Tiger Stadium to host future home games, pointing to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and local government restrictions as a reason for considering alternate sites.
"We can confirm that our game operations staff is meeting with LSU officials today to discuss potentially hosting future Saints home games at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge," Saints VP of communications Greg Bensel said in a statement obtained by NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. "LSU has been gracious and enthusiastic regarding hosting our future games and we very much appreciate their partnership. We have also discussed the possibility of moving our home games to LSU with the NFL and they are aware of our exploring this option. Obviously, our overwhelming preference is to play our games in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with partial fan attendance but there has been no indication from the city on when, or if, this might be approved."
Attendance numbers have fluctuated around the NFL in accordance with local and state policies as the pandemic continues. The Saints are among the teams that have not been allowed to welcome fans to their stadium this season, leading to a much calmer environment inside the traditionally raucous Superdome.
New Orleans mayor LaToya Cantrell released the following statement regarding the news of potential Saints games at LSU.
"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. 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."
LSU currently is permitting games at Tiger Stadium to have attendance at 25 percent capacity.
With 11 weeks and five home games left in the regular season, the Saints are at least considering a path to circumvent the current restrictions placed on them by local restrictions by exploring a potential site in Baton Rouge, a location 80 miles northwest of New Orleans. The Saints last played in Baton Rouge in 2005, when they hosted four games at Tiger Stadium after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina.