Saints to pay $1.2 million to use Tiger Stadium

Updated: September 14, 2005, 10:28 PM ET
Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Playing four times in Tiger Stadium will cost the New Orleans Saints about $1.2 million, LSU athletic director Skip Bertman said Wednesday.

That works out to about $300,000 per game. It will be used to cover game expenses and wear and tear on the field. Bertman said LSU will realize little, if any, profit.

"You can't run a football game in Tiger Stadium without 1,500-1,600 people to help," Bertman said, "and most of them are not volunteers.

"There will be wear and tear on the field, and I don't want to have to pay to make the field right. I'm assuming we're going to expend some effort to keep the field in shape, not that the field is in bad shape."

Saints owner Tom Benson and the Saints "have been real good about everything," Bertman said.

Bertman will go before the LSU Board of Supervisors Sept. 23 to get formal approval for allowing the Saints to play in Tiger Stadium. He added there also will be a request to allow beer to be sold for Saints games only. The NCAA does not allow the sale of alcoholic drinks at member events.

Earlier this week, the Saints and LSU agreed to hold four of their home games in Tiger Stadium, starting with an Oct. 30 meeting with the Miami Dolphins, led by former LSU coach Nick Saban. The Saints will return the following Sunday (Nov. 6) to play the Chicago Bears and will play games there against the Tampa Bay Bucs (Dec. 4) and the Carolina Panthers (Dec. 18).

Bertman said a typical Saturday night game in Tiger Stadium requires about 450 uniformed police from four different agencies, all paid, to provide such amenities as security and traffic control. Then there are the numerous game marshals, ushers, ticket takers, concession stand workers, doctors, Red Cross workers and ambulance personnel.

"You have to have electricians and plumbers available," he said. "It's like a large city, 100,000 people, on a given Saturday. The chances of nothing going wrong are zero."

Field conditions are a big concern, especially if it rains. The field is sand-based for better drainage and the added use could tear it up because it's designed for seven games per season.

Even more stressful for the field is that the teams are scheduled to play back-to-back days two consecutive weekends. The Tigers play North Texas on Oct. 29 before the Saints play Miami, then Appalachian State for homecoming on Nov. 5, the day before the Saints and Bears meet.

LSU associate athletic director Herb Vincent said the field will probably be re-sodded during a 19-day break in November between the Saints-Bears game and the LSU-Arkansas game on Nov. 25. It was already scheduled to be completely replaced after this season.

SMG, which staffs and manages game day operations for the Saints and the New Orleans Hornets, has offered its services in meetings between the Saints and LSU. SMG regional vice president Doug Thornton said that, while LSU knows how to put on a football game, there are some NFL specific areas such as field security and game production in which it might need help.

"We've not had the opportunity to discuss what role SMG will play, but we've offered our assistance to the extent that it is necessary," said Thornton. "LSU and the Saints want our help."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press