No, this is not a printing error. Yes, the end zones of TIAA Bank Stadium, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, really say “SAINTS.”
The New Orleans Saints, displaced by the destruction of Hurricane Ida, will start the season Sunday against the Green Bay Packers in the teal-tinted wilderness of Jacksonville, Fla., Instead of the black and gold cacophony of the Superdome. The stadium was available as the Jaguars open onto the road, but the location was hardly chosen at random.
After evacuating New Orleans on August 28, the Saints settled in North Texas, training first at AT&T Stadium in Arlington before moving on to Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. With AT&T not available on Sunday due to a dispute, the Saints chose Jacksonville as one of the three NFL venues in Florida, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, due to its “relative inaccessibility and unappealing as a destination”.
The Saints went so far as to research flights to Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville, and found Jacksonville to be the most difficult – and expensive – option for Packers fans.
“We know everything, I think, when it comes to preparing an opponent,” Saints general manager Mickey Loomis told reporters last week. “The bottom line is, hey, we’ve got to have a stadium ready for the NFL. Look, there are so many variables. I don’t want to go into all the variables that exist, but the key is to have a suitable place to play that both teams have access to.
It should be the only home game the Saints play away from New Orleans. Mayor LaToya Cantrell has said the Superdome, which has not suffered any major damage, should be ready to host the Team of Week 4 game against the Giants.