Hotel room shortage obstacle for Saints at LSU
BATON ROUGE, La. -- A dearth of hotel rooms, caused by multitudes of Hurricane Katrina victims who fled the New Orleans area, is the main obstacle to the New Orleans Saints playing three of their home games at LSU's Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, a school official said Friday.
The Saints are reportedly negotiating to play four games in San Antonio, where they have set up a temporary home since fleeing Katrina. One home game, against the Giants, has already been rescheduled for the Meadowlands.
Bernard Boudreaux, chairman of the LSU Board of Supervisors, said negotiations are under way to have the Saints play three games in Baton Rouge. He wouldn't discuss details about possible financial arrangements but said money is not the obstacle.
"The problem is, hotel rooms in this city and environs as far north as Shreveport are all saturated with refugees," Boudreaux told The Associated Press.
"Nobody wants to kick refugees out of hotel rooms for football," he added. He said the NFL has indicated it would need at least 260 rooms for the games.
Negotiations between the Saints and LSU will likely resume next week, Boudreaux said, and will focus largely on how to get around the room shortage.
On Friday morning, the San Antonio Express-News, citing unidentified sources close to the negotiations, said that city and Saints officials were close to completing a deal to bring four games to the city.
A high-ranking city official said the NFL hasn't signed off on the deal, but other city government sources told the newspaper they didn't expect any problems gaining approval from league commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
The Saints have set up makeshift headquarters and are practicing in San Antonio because of the hurricane damage to the Louisiana Superdome.
The newspaper said an announcement on an agreement could come as early as Friday.
"I'm not aware that an agreement has been reached," NFL spokesman Joe Browne told The Associated Press. "The scheduling of games needs approval of the commissioner."
B.J. "Red" McCombs, a San Antonio businessman and former Minnesota Vikings owner, has helped facilitate talks between the city and the Saints.
The newspaper said likely games to be moved to San Antonio are Oct. 2 against Buffalo, Oct. 16 against Atlanta; Dec. 4 against Tampa Bay and Dec. 24 against Detroit. The Oct. 2 date opened after the Builder's Showcase Expo at the Alamodome agreed to reschedule, dome director Mike Abington said.
Boudreaux said Friday that games played at LSU would most likely be against Miami, scheduled for Oct. 30; the Chicago game, Nov. 6; and the Carolina game, Dec. 18.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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