The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

16 December 2005

Return of the Saints?

New Orleans may be getting their football team back next year:

[NFL Players' Association executive director Gene] Upshaw met with Saints players in San Antonio and said he wants to have them return to their training facility in Metairie and split their eight home games between Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge and the Superdome, if possible, players said.

"The impression I got from [Upshaw] is we'd be back next year in New Orleans and play four games in the Superdome and four games in Baton Rouge," Saints defensive end Darren Howard said. "He didn't say it like that, but that's the impression I got.

"I guess that's what he's arguing for and the commissioner is pushing for. If I had to guess, if I had to put my money on it, I think we'll be back in New Orleans next year. But it's all hearsay until it happens."

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue hasn't said anything officially yet, but this sounds very much like getting the team ready to come home.

How does this affect the Crescent City's other major sports squad? Ron Hitley at Hornets247.com (he doesn't do permalinks, so look for 15 December 10:47 am, "Links and Random Shizzle") says it will hurt:

The Saints will always get more love in N.O., and with them back in town, there's less appreciation for pro basketball.

Which would tend to support sportswriter David Aldridge's premise:

The truth of the matter is that it was a tough go for the Hornets in New Orleans before the hurricane. Like Sacramento, Calif.; San Antonio, Texas; and Memphis — and Oklahoma City, for that matter — New Orleans might be too small to support two major-league teams. The more established Saints have four decades of history in New Orleans, and the benefits to a city of having an NFL team, frankly, are greater than those of having an NBA team.

With the New Orleans market now smaller by a quarter, maybe a third, it's clearly not going to be any easier.

Hornets owner George Shinn and NBA Commissioner David Stern still say that the Bees will go back to New Orleans. And that's exactly what they should say. But a lot can happen between Now and Then. Meanwhile, says Hitley:

The NBA fans of Oklahoma shouldn't worry though. If the Hornets move back to N.O., they'll have the Oklahoma City Sonics to root for. Has a surprisingly nice ring to it.

I thought so myself.

Posted at 6:23 AM to Net Proceeds