Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Saints Test Drive San Antonio

Despite trying their level best not to look like they're finding opportunity in New Orleans' misery, San Antonio officials are positively giddy about the exiled New Orleans Saints' decision to play three "home" games in the Alamodome this year. Tickets go on sale today for the October 2nd game against the Buffalo Bills, the October 16th game against the Atlanta Falcons and the December 24th game against the Detroit Lions. Four other Saints "home" games will be played in Baton Rouge at LSU's Tiger Stadium.

Although Saints owner Tom Benson has the PR smarts not to say it right now, the chances of the team returning to New Orleans are realistically quite slim. He was already making noise about leaving before the hurricane hit. It's hard to imagine Benson having a change of heart now that the Superdome may have to be torn down, the mayor says the city's broke and a sizable portion of the Saints' already-small market won't return when New Orleans is rebuilt.

I think Benson will continue to profess a heartfelt desire to stay in New Orleans, leaving the NFL to do his dirty work by saying there's no way the decimated Gulf Coast region can support a team anytime soon. Either that or he'll just sell the team to another owner who will also high tail it out of New Orleans.

San Antonio badly wants an NFL team. They didn't build the Alamodome just to host odd-year Big 12 Championships, occasional Dallas Cowboys preseason contests and third-tier bowl games. San Antonio's economic profile is better than it was when they built the Alamodome, and Benson owns car dealerships there.

Personally, though, I'd hope the Saints land someplace else, like Los Angeles. If San Antonio does get the Saints, Austin might no longer receive over-the-air broadcasts of Cowboys games because the Saints would be the new closest NFC franchise. Although Austin is full of carpetbagging Cowboy haters, I'd rather watch the team I grew up with than the long-suffering Ain'ts.

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