We Love You Saints, But Really, Baton Rouge?
…and it was then that the Saints found themselves in an existential situation. In the wake of the Coronavirus and Phase 3 regulations, the team tried to pull off a power move, threatening to pick up their footballs, pack up their pads, and take their talents to Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge for their remaining home games when the mayor up and said, Fine. Go ‘head. Ain’t nobody running behind you. At that point for the Saints organization, there was the door and the unknown that waited on the other side. They could either walk through it or turn around and apologize. Questions abounded. First and foremost:
The wind shear? Yes, the wind shear, and what would it do to Drew Brees’ deflating arm strength. Drew Brees, once their young and strapping, All-Pro QB known for precision passing and spreading the ball all over the field had now become a balding 40 year-old dink and donker who was having trouble pushing the ball more than 10 yards without throwing an incompletion or interception. And that was in the climate-controlled environment of the SuperDome. Placing him outside in the elements could be a detriment, a deflater to an already disappointing season. At 3-2 in his last hurrah and in what was dubbed a Superbowl or bust year, does the team really want to do that to their soon to be Hall of Fame QB?
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Built Dome Tough
Then there was the team design to consider. Under head coach Sean Payton, the Saints have always been regarded as a finesse team – sorta gimmicky. Or as Bill Parcels once said about Payton’s play calling, “a lil too cute at times.” Sure, they were fine if you put them on turf in the finely tuned conditions of the SuperDome in front of 70,000 screaming fans. In that environment the team sets offensive records. But take it outside on grass, throw a lil dirt and mud on them, extend those cleats, and what do you know. The offense is less efficient, and the Saints often find themselves in nail biters with teams they would blow-out at home.
Now, except for one away game in Atlanta, the Saints were faced with living the outdoor life for the rest of the season. Payton tried to put on a good face. Yeah, he said, the thought of playing in front of fans at Tiger Stadium would be exciting. Ok, sure it would. There were 83 million reasons why Payton would say that, and none of them had anything to do with how the team would perform.
$83 million, that’s what the Saints tend to average in ticket revenue, and what they stand to lose by having no fans in the Dome. That’s not counting the other millions they stand to lose in sponsorships and concessions (think $11 beers, $14 doubles, and $7 popcorn). All in all, according to Forbes, the 2020 season could end up costing the Saints over $400 million. Ouch. That’s a lot of money.
…and it was then you maybe started to see things from their perspective. Football is just as much a business as it is entertainment. Yes, there’s a lot of team profit, but that also trickles down and spreads to not just a lot of profit and employing people in the Dome, but to a lot of people making money off of parking, a lot of bars making money off of pre and post game food and drinks, a lot of grocery stores profiting off the tailgate rush for food, a lot of hotels missing out on booked rooms. Without fans the downtown scene dries up on Sundays and a portion the city budget suffers because of it.
But Baton Rouge? Who in New Orleans benefits from that move except the Saints? Maybe it’s a bluff, but if so, then the Saints need to give it up because the mayor ain’t bluffing when it comes to the Coronavirus. And who knows, allowing a ¼ of fans in the Dome may be more trouble than it’s worth, revenue and virus wise. So knock it off, Saints. Think of Drew Brees and his arm. Think of the team’s design. And think of the city you’d be abandoning and leaving behind. We miss you too. And hopefully we’ll all get together soon for $11 beers and $7 popcorn. Until then, do what’s right by us and stay your ass in the Dome.