NEW ORLEANS, La. (The Advocate) - New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell recommended that all large festivals in the city be pushed back for 2021, but she came short of recommending the same for New Orleans Saints games.
Cantrell spoke generally of music festivals and large events first during her press conference on Tuesday afternoon, saying, "My opinion is all of that should be pushed back, period. Absolutely no large events as it relates to the year of 2020."
But when asked of the Saints specifically, who play their home games in the 76,000-seat Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Cantrell said that the NFL as a whole is struggling with those decisions.
"I don't know what that's going to look like," Cantrell said of the future as it pertains to sports, adding how fans travel for games.
"If we're well and we're better, and better than even our surrounding areas and states and who comes, I think we'll have to think about that. It'll all be factored into not only when New Orleans opens back up, but when the state and when the United States truly opens back up to where we are confident and comfortable but safe in going about our way.
"And I don't think anyone has a clue right now. We're looking at hypotheticals, we're looking at data, but one thing the data doesn't lie and it clearly shows us without a unified strategy nationally, its impacted our response locally, across the country."
The Saints are aware of Cantrell's comments from Tuesday.
“We are preparing to play and we are being very proactive in working with healthcare professionals, our medical staff and both the NBA and NFL," said Greg Bensel, the Saints and Pelicans' senior vice president of communications. "In addition, we are in constant contact with local and state government. When we return this season, our highest priority will be health and safety of our fans, staff, players and coaches. It is what we need to do and are doing relative to planning to play and we will be ready."
Bensel added that the economic impact of Saints games is very important.
"And considering the economic and cultural significance of the Saints, we are working to do everything in our power to make it work. It’s too important for our city.”
The NFL schedule for 2020 has not yet been released, and it's supposed to come out in early May. However, the opening Thursday game for the regular season is set to be Sept. 10, while the Hall of Fame preseason game between Dallas and Pittsburgh is set for Aug. 6 in Canton, Ohio.
The Saints' preseason opponents have not yet been determined, but the Saints are supposed to host Green Bay, Minnesota, Kansas City, the Los Angeles Chargers, San Francisco, Atlanta, Carolina and Tampa Bay. New Orleans is supposed to travel to Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Tampa, Atlanta and Carolina.
The NFL has already made several changes to the offseason, including having the NFL draft conducted virtually next week.
All NFL facilities have been closed since March 25 and will remain closed until all the states with NFL teams lift their respective stay-at-home orders.
Because of the widespread quarantine orders, the NFL and NFLPA agreed to a voluntary virtual offseason program, which will begin on April 20 and end on May 15.
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