The Week 1 NFL contest between the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers will be played in Jacksonville, Florida, the NFL announced on Wednesday, with the league opting to move the highly anticipated game from New Orleans while the city works to recover from Hurricane Ida.
The Saints have been holding practices at AT&T Stadium near Dallas for the past few days, after evacuating ahead of Hurricane Ida, and the team is planning to stay away from New Orleans for a month.
The recently renamed Caesars Superdome in New Orleans did not suffer any damage during the hurricane, but much of the city remains without power and some local officials say it could take at least a few weeks to restore electricity.
The September 12 game will now be at TIAA Bank Field, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ home field.
“The decision was made, in consultation with state and local officials and both clubs, in the interest of public safety,” the NFL said in a statement.
What To Watch For
The game promises a great deal of intrigue from a football perspective. This will be the first time the Saints will start a season without Drew Brees at quarterback since 2005—a season the Saints were also on the road for after Hurricane Katrina. But the biggest story going in is how reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers will perform, after an offseason filled with news that Rodgers is unhappy with the Packers organization.
The Saints spent the entire 2005 season on the road after Katrina, but this season is not expected to be a repeat of 2005. The massively improved levee system around New Orleans spared the city from the catastrophic flooding it saw during Katrina, and subsequent devastation, even though Ida’s winds packed a stronger punch than Katrina’s. Damage from winds cut off the city from all eight of its outside power sources, and destroyed a 400-foot tall transmission tower that supplies electricity across the Mississippi River. It’s unclear at this point exactly how long it might take to restore power to the entire New Orleans area.
One of the first hopeful signs after the storm came early on Wednesday morning, when a small section of New Orleans East regained power, becoming the first part of the city to have power restored. The area is close to a nearby power station, though, and more than 90% of the metropolitan area remains without electricity.