HOUSTON -- The Houston Texans plan to play their home opener at hurricane damaged Reliant Stadium on Oct. 5.
"I can't say with absolute certainty," Texans owner Bob McNair told The Associated Press Tuesday. "But let's put it this way, I'd be shocked if we did not play there."
The stadium's retractable roof lost five pieces in the storm and officials said large pieces of debris had fallen into the stadium during Hurricane Ike. The roof probably won't be fixed in time for the game against Indianapolis, but McNair said that game and the remaining home games could be played with the roof open.
"We fully expect that we'll play the Colts in Reliant Stadium," he said. "Probably the rest of the year we'll play and use Reliant as an open-air stadium. It was designed to operate that way, either open or closed so we'll get to enjoy it open for a while."
McNair said there are a few minor problems to be fixed for the stadium to be ready, but that engineers who have studied the venue since the storm have found no structural damage.
The Texans are playing their first three games on the road after their scheduled home opener against Baltimore was moved to Nov. 9 because of the storm. McNair said returning home to play in their own stadium should be a bright spot for an area reeling from the devastation caused by the hurricane.
"I think it will be. It will be big for us to have them too," he said. "We need their support and that will be a big lift for us."
The Texans lost 31-12 at Tennessee on Sunday to drop to 0-2 this season. McNair is hoping for a better result this week against Jacksonville because his team has had more time to deal with the hurricane.
Several players' homes suffered significant damage in the storm and many remain without electricity.
"I think our players are going to be ready to play," he said. "Our execution wasn't what it should be ... and we have the talent and we were prepared. Maybe there was some distractions that might have altered their focus a little bit. But we don't make any excuses, we've got to go out and execute."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press