Saints opener will be played without fans, team announces

The New Orleans Saints season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 13th will be played in an empty arena, as the team announced Wednesday that the Mercedes-Benz Superdome will be closed to fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this week team officials met with safety experts, Governor John Bel Edwards and New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell to discuss plans to safely allow fans to attend home games. After the meeting, the team decided that due to coronavirus trends in the region it's wise not to host fans in the stadium for the first home game. 

The Saints said they will monitor trends and determine if fans will be able to attend the September 27 game vs. the Green Bay Packers, but added current guidance suggests fan attendence will be unlikely. 

"While we have put together a comprehensive plan that will allow us to safely host fans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, that plan has always been dependent on how effectively we, as a community and region, are battling Covid-19," Saints president Dennis Lauscha said. "We have given this situation as much time as possible to see the type of improvement necessary to welcome fans into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, but unfortunately, medical experts indicate that trends are not improving rapidly enough for us to begin the season with fan attendance.

"As we have noted, while we are not allowing fans in the first home game, we remain cautiously optimistic that fans may be able to attend our September 27 game vs. Green Bay, but stress that fans need to remain flexible and adaptable in case we cannot. We are keenly aware of the outstanding home field advantage that our fans provide our team, and we are as eager as anyone to welcome them back. We remain optimistic and committed to implementing responsible and safe measures for everyone that attends a Saints game. We are highly confident in our plans that safely welcome fans back into the building but are also reliant and dependent on seeing a marked improvement in our community wellness numbers. Ultimately, while that is a difficult decision to have to make, it is made with the number one goal of health and safety of our community and region. It will ultimately be the driving factor in getting our fans back into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Our community and fan base have shown incredible strength and resilience when facing challenges throughout our history and know we can meet this new challenge, as well, if we bring that same sense of fight and determination in our battle against Covid-19."