After Hurricane Ida forced the Saints to move their regular-season opener out of New Orleans, the team was given multiple options by the NFL for the relocation of the game, but in the end, they chose Jacksonville and it appears they mostly chose Jacksonville in an effort to stick it to the Packers.
Here's how they ended up choosing the north Florida city.
With the Saints practicing in Texas right now, the best plan would have been to put the game in Dallas, but AT&T Stadium is hosting a concert on Sept. 15, so that option was quickly ruled out. After that, the state of Florida became the next best option with the stadiums in Miami, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville all available on Sept. 12.
According to NOLA.com, one reason the Saints wanted to put the game in Florida is because Aaron Rodgers tends to struggle there. The Packers quarterback has played just seven career games in the state, going 3-4 with a QB rating of 78.1. The other upside of putting the game in Florida is that the Saints feel like they have an advantage playing there due to the high humidity, which the Saints are used to thanks to the fact that they practice in New Orleans.
After deciding on Florida, the Saints had to choose a city.
According to NOLA.com, the team ruled out Miami because it's a destination spot, which probably would have led to Packers fans taking over the stadium. As for Tampa Bay, a game there would mean playing in the Buccaneers stadium and if they had gone that route, there was a thought that Bucs fans might show up just to cheer against the Saints.
At that point, Jacksonville seemed like the best option and here's the wildest part: The Saints actually had someone check out which city would be the hardest one to reach for Packers fans.
One Saints employee checked out how much it would cost to travel to Jacksonville versus Tampa and Miami, and what the employee found is that Jacksonville was the most expensive city to travel to (out of those three options). Basically, the Saints did everything in their power to make sure that Packers fans aren't going to take over the TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville for what's supposed to be a "home" game for New Orleans.
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis didn't explain why his team ended up picking Jacksonville, but he did admit there were a lot of "variables" involved.
"We're conscious of everything when it comes to preparing for an opponent," Loomis said this week, via NOLA.com. "There's just so many variables. I don't want to get into all of the variables. The main thing is to have a suitable place to play that both teams have access to."
Loomis might not admit it, but the bottom line here is pretty clear: The Saints did some serious homework before picking Jacksonville to host their Week 1 game against Green Bay.
Since it's a home game for the Saints, fans in New Orleans will get the first crack at tickets for the game in Jacksonville. Tickets went on sale for Saints season-ticket holders on Thursday morning. Saints fans on the team's ticket waiting list will then get a crack at the tickets on Thursday night. After that, Packers fans will finally get their first crack at tickets on Friday morning when they go on sale to the general public at 11 a.m. ET.
The Drew Brees era is over and the Saints have turned to Jameis Winston to run the show. The CBS Sports app will get you ready for every step of the Saints' 2021 season. If you've already downloaded the CBS Sports app, favorite the Saints so you don't miss any updates.