<
>

If storm closes in, Saints may head to Indy, Atlanta

8/28/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

The Saints have a plan in place if Hurricane Gustav continues toward New Orleans. Coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis aren't publicly elaborating on where the team will go, in large part because they don't know where the storm will end up.

They likely will monitor the forecasts for another day or two before making any final decision. But players have been told to be ready to leave New Orleans as early as Sunday. That would make sense because it would allow the Saints a full week of practice to prepare for the Sept. 7 regular-season opener against Tampa Bay, which is scheduled for the Superdome.

Although the Saints made San Antonio their base of operations after Hurricane Katrina struck three years ago, indications are they don't plan to return there. Indianapolis and Atlanta have been discussed as possible destinations, according to a league source.

Indianapolis makes sense because the Colts' old stadium (the RCA Dome) would be available for practice. Atlanta may make more geographical sense because it's closer to New Orleans and there are plenty of sports facilities in the Atlanta area.

The forecasts have the storm making landfall around Tuesday. Officials already have said the Superdome will not be used as a shelter as it was in 2005.

If the storm hits New Orleans hard, the NFL could consider moving the game to Tampa and flip-flopping home games with the Bucs. The Saints are supposed to play at Raymond James Stadium on Nov. 30.