SAN ANTONIO (AP) – The New Orleans Saints said Sunday they are considering three options where to play their home games this season: LSU’s Tiger Stadium, the Alamodome in San Antonio or at the stadiums of all their opponents.

Speaking at a news conference in San Antonio, where the team has moved its day-to-day operations after the Superdome and most of New Orleans was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, general manager Mickey Loomis and coach Jim Haslett made it clear that going to Baton Rouge, La., is their first choice. They said that being a permanent road team was the last option.

“We want to play in the Superdome, but obviously that’s not possible,” Loomis said. “We would like to play our games in Baton Rouge. Obviously, the league has a lot of say. They’ll be involved in the decision. We’re trying to explore every possibility.”

The Saints open Sunday at Carolina.

Their second game, which was supposed to be their home opener, already has been moved to Giants Stadium, home of their foe, the New York Giants, but the date has not been announced.

They play at Minnesota the next week, so the first game still in flux is Oct. 2 against Buffalo.

Haslett said NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue “put us behind the eight ball” with the decision to play at the Meadowlands in Week 2.

He called LSU the first option because, “I would like our fans to have the opportunity to see us play.”

Receiver Joe Horn, who spent three hours visiting with displaced Louisiana residents at the Astrodome on Saturday, said he also would like to stay within the club’s home state.

“After talking to all the people yesterday, I know that the fans want us to be as close as possible, so LSU would be the best choice,” he said Sunday.

Club officials and players are living in a hotel across the interstate from the Alamodome and will be practicing at the San Antonio Independent School District’s Spring Sports Complex, which was upgraded several years ago when the Dallas Cowboys trained in the city. The Saints practiced there last year while taking refuge from another hurricane.

Loomis said Sunday the Saints are planning to keep their temporary headquarters and practices in San Antonio all season, regardless of where they end up playing their home games.

Everyone involved in the organization, and their families, fled New Orleans a few days before Katrina hit. It was evident soon after the storm that the Superdome wouldn’t be available for this season.

Baton Rouge makes sense because it is only about 75 miles from New Orleans and missed most of the brunt of Katrina. Tiger Stadium holds almost 92,000, although there might be issues of whether the turf can handle LSU games on Saturdays and Saints games on Sundays.

The Alamodome is about 540 miles from the Superdome, making it more difficult for fans to reach. However, Texas is now filled with roughly 250,000 Louisiana refugees, including about 25,000 in San Antonio at Kelly USA, a former military base.

Several coaches and players visited Kelly on Sunday. Loomis said the first person their caravan came across was a former team employee whose son now works for the organization. The man was taken back to the team hotel, where he was to be reunited with his son. Their names were not immediately released.

The Alamodome seats about 60,000 for football and has only a few dozen of the moneymaking luxury suites teams crave, part of the reason the nation’s eighth-largest city has never been a serious candidate for getting a team via expansion or relocation.



Associated Press writer Kristie Rieken in Houston contributed to this report.

AP-ES-09-04-05 2049EDT


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