Saints hope to return home


INDIANAPOLIS - New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said the team remains hopeful it will be able to host the season opener against Tampa Bay on Sunday.

The Saints moved their practice site to Indianapolis over the weekend to get out of the path of Hurricane Gustav. Loomis said damage to some awnings occurred at the team's practice site. But the Saints still plan to practice in Indianapolis this week.

The Louisiana Superdome, which was severely damaged three years ago during Hurricane Katrina, appeared to be in good condition too.

Still, Loomis said he has not yet spoken with league officials about the possibility of moving the game, possibly switching the two home dates between the division rivals.

Loomis said players, coaches, and staff reported no injuries to their families in the storm.

He also said the Saints want to return to New Orleans quickly to help lift the city's spirits after a tough week.

Whether the Saints play at the Superdome depends on several factors that may be out of stadium management's control.

Doug Thornton, vice president of SMG, the company that manages the Superdome and neighboring New Orleans Arena said those matters include:

•When the city allows residents to return, which affects not only the amount of fans who can attend but also the staff of approximately 2,500 needed to stage an NFL game, including police who handle security and may still be needed for post-hurricane patrols.

•Whether suppliers can ship in needed food and drink for concession stands, suites, and lounges.

Thornton said all food had been shipped out before the storm for fear it would spoil if the power went out.

"Just based on my gut right now, all of it looks pretty positive," Thornton said.

It was not clear what the backup plan would be.