New Orleans Saints and NFL officials are discussing contingency plans in case the Superdome, the Saints' home field that was damaged by Hurricane Katrina, is not ready for use early in the regular season.
"We are discussing the situation with the Saints and looking into potential alternatives," said Greg Aiello, the NFL's vice president of public relations. "No decisions have been made."
Shea Guinn, president and general manager of Reliant Park, the home field for the Houston Texans, said he had offered the use of that stadium.
The Saints left town and are in San Jose preparing for their preseason finale tomorrow night at Oakland. The club has made tentative plans to relocate its operations to San Antonio to prepare for the regular season, according to team spokesman Greg Bensel. It was unclear what alternatives were being considered by the team and the league.
The Saints will open the regular season Sept. 11 at Carolina. Their home opener is scheduled for Sept. 18 against the New York Giants.
"As of right now the damage assessment is not complete," Bensel said. "We are speaking with the league and we will make a plan as soon as we know the complete ramifications and all of our options."
Two sections of the Superdome's roof were blown off by the hurricane, but Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco reportedly indicated Monday that the facility had been declared sound by an engineer. As floodwaters rose in the city yesterday, an estimated 10,000 people were gathered in the building after fleeing their homes, and patients from a hospital also were taken to the stadium.
The Saints are practicing this week on the campus of San Jose State, but players said their thoughts were on the events in New Orleans.
"I slept for only about an hour, if that," punt returner Michael Lewis, a native of the city, told the Associated Press on Monday. "I watched about everything I could on TV. I had the Weather Channel on all night."
Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre learned late yesterday afternoon that his mother's home in Kiln, Miss., had been destroyed. But he spoke to his mother and found out that she and other family members were alive and well, after an anxious day and a half of being unable to reach them.
"In my gut, I feel like they're okay," Favre said earlier yesterday during his weekly news conference. "But with each minute that passes, I begin to wonder."
Favre said he had spoken to his wife, Deanna, who weathered the storm at their home in Hattiesburg, Miss., with their two children and about 50 other family members and friends.
"Most of those people are still there because they have nothing to go home to," said Favre, adding that he planned to return to Hattiesburg after the Packers' preseason game tomorrow night at Tennessee.
In Baton Rouge, La., LSU postponed its scheduled football game Saturday night against North Texas.
-- From News Services
and Staff Reports