The impact of Hurricane Ida on the Gulf Coast will displace the New Orleans Saints for weeks to come.
Coach Sean Payton said the club is planning to operate away from New Orleans for the first quarter of the 2021 season, per Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com. That would mean off-site preparations for at least four games against the Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots and New York Giants, and a return, at the earliest, for a Week 5 road game against the Washington Football Team.
The Saints are likely to operate from the Dallas-Ft. Worth area in the interim, while practicing at either SMU or Texas Christian University, according to NFL Network's Jane Slater. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has offered use of AT&T Stadium, where the Saints have been practicing and could possibly play early home games against the Packers on Sept. 12, and/or against the Giants on Oct. 3.
"We think that'd be something that's very realistic," coach Sean Payton said of the possibility of the Packers game being played at AT&T Stadium, per USA Today's Jori Epstein.
Slater later reported on NFL Now, however, that it is unlikely the Saints' regular-season opener can be held at AT&T Stadium due to a schedule conflict with a Los Bukis concert on Sept. 15. Slater added that due to the contract permitting multiple days of setup for the concert, a football game a few days before is difficult to imagine.
Nothing has officially been announced regarding the Saints' schedule, but the league said Tuesday that it is "monitoring developments and are in communication with the club," NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported.
Payton added that Saints owner Gayle Benson is currently picking up expenses for players and staff for hotels and meals, per Slater. Ida was downgraded to a tropical depression on Monday, but its powerful surge on Sunday rendered New Orleans without power. The Saints' preseason finale against the Arizona Cardinals was canceled as the storm approached.
Benson donated $1 million to the Gulf Coast Renewal Fund on Monday. Arthur Blank, owner of the rival Atlanta Falcons, pledged $1 million on Tuesday through the Arthur Blank Family Foundation to the American Red Cross and the Greater New Orleans Foundation. The Baltimore Ravens and the Stephen and Renee Bisciotti Foundation are donating $1 million to support Hurricane Ida relief funds in New Orleans and the surrounding areas, the team announced.
You can donate toward Hurricane Ida relief at NewOrleansSaints.com/hurricaneida