Saints move season-opener to Florida after Ida carnage

New Orleans (AFP) –


The New Orleans Saints will play their season-opening game against the Green Bay Packers in Jacksonville as Louisiana struggles with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, the NFL team confirmed on Wednesday.

The Saints were due to host the Packers at the Superdome but were forced to move operations to Dallas last week after evacuating before Ida slammed into the US Gulf Coast.

Although the Superdome escaped serious damage in the storm, New Orleans is still assessing the impact of the disaster with more than a million properties across Lousiana without power as of late Tuesday.

Saints coach Sean Payton said earlier this week that the team may spend the first month of the season on the road as a result of Ida.

The Saints had investigated the possibility of playing their season-opener at the Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium in Arlington, but that option was ruled out because of a schedule conflict at the venue.

Saints owner Gayle Benson thanked the Jacksonville Jaguars for making their TIAA Field home available for the rearranged September 12 game.

"It is never easy to make a decision that involves not playing a Saints home game in the Caesars Superdome, but I am confident that this is the right decision for our city at this juncture," Benson said.

"Collectively, we have a monumental task ahead of us in cleaning up the after effects left by Hurricane Ida, but it has been inspiring to see people getting right to work and starting the process."

"Our staff is working diligently to prepare for the game and we anticipate many Saints fans from across the region will be there to support Coach Payton and the Saints players."

The Saints' second and third games of the season are away at Carolina and New England. They are due to return to the Superdome to host the New York Giants on October 3.