Sean Payton, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints are eager to get fans back into the stands at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, hoping they could begin filing in as early as Week 5 -- when the team hosts the Los Angeles Chargers. After an initial scare by Hurricane Delta that had to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for this week's contest, the club decided to stay put and would've liked some fan energy to cheer them on. That's not going to happen though, despite a request to allow 25 percent capacity on Sunday.
The request was denied by New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell -- per the New Orleans Times-Picayune -- who points at the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as the reason. If approved, the Saints would've been allowed to house 18,500 fans, but will instead stick to the 750 family members and friends. Cantrell is leaving the door for fans to attend Saints games at some point this season, but it's undetermined when that will be.
The Saints are now hoping it'll happen on Oct. 25, when they host the rival Carolina Panthers. But even if Cantrell signs off on it then or later, it will still require the approval of Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. The latter was on board to allow fans into the Superdome for the Packers visit in Week 3, but Cantrell was not.
The two will need to be on the same page at some point in order for the Saints to get what they want.
This is all in stark contrast to what's occurring in Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis has given the nod for the Miami Dolphins to operate with 100 percent capacity at Hard Rock Stadium beginning this week. That amounts to 65,000 fans, and the sheer magnitude combined with COVID-19 concerns have many labeling it a bad decision. The Dolphins agree on some level, because despite getting the green light to put the pedal to the floor, they'll hold firm on allowing 13,000 fans in the stands when they host the Denver Broncos on Oct. 18.
"We'll continue to follow CDC guidelines & put everyone's safety first & monitor things as they go," Dolphins CEO Tom Garkinkel told ESPN. "Right now w/ positivity rates where they are, we feel that we can keep people safe in a socially distanced environment, which is our 13,000 capacity."
That's still thousands more than what will be allowed in New Orleans for now, as the Saints continue to hope they'll eventually have their fan faithful cheering them on against all opposition.