Director wants Sugar Bowl held at Tiger Stadium
The executive director of the Sugar Bowl wants the Jan. 2 game played at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, and he said Monday that he has the support and cooperation of LSU.
"It is our hope and desire to play the game at LSU," Paul Hoolahan, Sugar Bowl executive director, said from Houston, where he and his family have relocated since Hurricane Katrina. "It's civic pride more than anything. Right now we need to rally and get a sense that we are going to pull our state together and come back in full force."
Hoolahan said it should take up to 60 days to determine if the Superdome in New Orleans is unplayable, though he feels it clearly is. Hoolahan said he has a long-term concern about the future of the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, if the Superdome needs to be torn down.
"If it's not rebuildable, then we've got trouble," Hoolahan said. "I am going to pick up HAZMAT suits and facemasks right now so we can head to the Superdome and clear out our offices and move them to Baton Rouge. We have our office space in Baton Rouge secure."
Hoolahan said LSU director of athletics Skip Bertman has pledged his full support.
The greatest concerns about playing the game at Tiger Stadium?
"Lodging, transportation, infrastructure," Hoolahan said. "You have two teams from out of town. You have alumni, fans, media, sponsors ... the list goes on and on. The only way we'll know if we can really do this is by meeting with the chamber of commerce and the convention bureau. I think we can get this done."
Hoolahan said that his home in the New Orleans area has water damage, that his Mississippi home was destroyed and that his three young daughters have all begun to attend school in Houston.
"We want to be good citizens," Bertman said. "There is no reason the Sugar Bowl shouldn't be played in an SEC state. Not that we [LSU's Tigers] want to be there. We want to be at the Rose Bowl [playing for the national title]. This is a no-brainer except for the hotels. We have 200,000 people here right now we didn't have here. But January is a long way off."
Bertman said Baton Rouge is not a one-year solution for the Sugar Bowl, but a two- or three-year answer.
"We're not subsidizing this," Bertman said. "Our fans that bought tickets for LSU wouldn't expect us to subsidize the Sugar Bowl or the Saints. They'll pay all the expenses. Playing the games here is no big deal. The one thing we'll have to do is find a way to get our stadium cleaned up quickly."
Joe Schad covers college football for ESPN.
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