NOLA Official: “Gut Feeling” Game is On

September 1st, 2008
Its looking like the Bucs may open the season in New Orleans as planned, but its not written in stone quite yet.

It's looking like the Bucs may open the season in New Orleans as planned, but it's not written in stone quite yet.

[UPDATE: 12:02 a.m. Bob Holtzman of ESPN reports if the Superdome cannot be used Sunday, the Bucs-Saints game will be switched to Tampa. Holtzman noted that the Superdome uses a gameday staff of 2,500.]

From the first reports out of New Orleans on the wrath of Hurricane Gustav, it appears the Bucs season opener at New Orleans is a green light.

However, there are still obstacles. First, the levees in the Big Easy have to hold. Whether they can or not won’t be known for another day, maybe two. Then there are logistics concerns, as Doug Thornton, the regional vice president of SMG, the company that manages the Superdome, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune this morning, “We can’t play a game if we don’t have staff and supplies.”

The city was successfully evacuated in recent days as Gustav made its way up the Gulf of Mexico. If residents, some of which are stadium workers, can’t return to the city in enough time, there won’t be proper staff to go ahead with the game as planned. But Thornton did tell the Times-Picayune:

It is “my gut feeling is we’re going to play a football game (in the Superdome) Sunday.”

Thornton noted that there are five elements that will decide if the game will go on as scheduled. They all must be assessed on Tuesday.

1) Structural damage, if any, to the Superdome.

2) The ability to get food products transported to the facility this week.

3) Employee staffing.

4) Security staffing.

5) Fan availability.

Finally, the dome must have appropriate electricity. It might not go over so well if surrounding neighborhoods were without power while city officials worked feverishly to make sure the Superdome was juiced for a game.

In his current Monday Morning Quarterback column on, Peter King hinted that if the game cannot be played at the Superdome, the NFL likely would move the game to Raymond James Stadium and the scheduled Saints-Bucs game at Tampa Nov. 30 would be played in New Orleans.

Earlier this evening the NFL Network reported that’s exactly what the NFL would do if New Orleans officials deem the game unplayable at the Superdome, though NFL spokesman Greg Aiello didn’t go as far in speaking to the Times-Picayune.

Neither the Saints nor the NFL have revealed any contingency plans for where the game might be played if the Superdome is not available. But NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league is “continuing to monitor the situation in close coordination with the Saints.”

“Our focus today is on the brave people of the Gulf Coast,” Aiello said. “We have great admiration for them and for the public safety and emergency personnel who are tirelessly working to protect lives and property in that region.”

King wrote that if the Bucs carped about having to play four consecutive road games, which is what would happen if the games are flipped; it would appear grossly shallow and likely be met with scorn.

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