The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

23 October 2005

Saints to be converted?

Chris Mortensen of ESPN is predicting that 2005 will be the last season for the New Orleans Saints, that the team, temporarily berthed in San Antonio in the wake of Katrina, will either remain there permanently or eventually find its way to Los Angeles.

James Joyner is inclined to agree:

While [Saints owner Tom] Benson will be vilified, especially given the public sympathy New Orleans has after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the city is a poor home for an NFL franchise. The Super Dome, while a marvel when new, was a dilapidated, obsolescent stadium even before the storm damage and it is a very small market, indeed — especially considering that it is so close to the much more popular Dallas Cowboys.

San Antonio isn't all that much larger — Nielsen Media Research ranks it 37th, while New Orleans is 43rd — so the team may well end up in L.A. instead of La.

And this adds yet another potential twist to the eventual fate of New Orleans' NBA team, the Hornets, currently settling in Oklahoma City (market #45): if the Saints are definitely gone, there will likely be more pressure on Hornets owner George Shinn to bring his team back to the Big Easy. Then again, the NBA may have another round of expansion in a few years, in which New Orleans might get another franchise to replace the Hornets; the NFL, however, has no plans to expand.

Posted at 1:58 PM to Dyssynergy

It may be about time for the NFL to get serious about lower-echelon pro football in the U.S. -- with, perhaps, a separate league in each of the rough geographical areas described by the conference divisions.

I prefer minor league baseball over the majors anyway, and have since the '94 strike.

Posted by: McGehee at 2:09 PM on 23 October 2005

There already is a minor league -- it's called the Arena Football League. Enjoy. I know the NFL does, because they don't have to pay a dime to the AFL, nor to the NCAA, for the development of those players.

I don't know that I'd call Dallas "close" to New Orleans. Both Dallas and Houston are a few hundred miles away from The Big Easy. That means no one's going to drive to Texas on Sundays to watch NFL football.

Posted by: CT at 4:08 PM on 23 October 2005

Will they change their name to the Los Angeles Angels? Or maybe the Virgins?

Posted by: Joel Sax at 5:42 PM on 23 October 2005

CT: I'm sure some people do indeed make the drive; sports fans (for example, college football and NASCAR enthusiasts) routinely drive or fly hundreds of miles. Mostly, though, I'm just thinking of having enough cultural affinity to root for the team. Certainly, Dallas has tons of fans in places like El Paso and New Mexico. Indeed, they've got a nationwide fanbase. Given that the Saints have never been a serious championship contender and the Cowboys historically have been, I'm sure that has led to a sizable support base in the Big Easy.

Posted by: James Joyner at 7:02 PM on 23 October 2005