NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Kickoff for Saturday’s preseason game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Saints at the Superdome has been moved up seven hours because of the potential for Hurricane Ida to hit the Louisiana coast by Sunday.
The Saints announced the game will be start at noon Central Time and that the change was agreed upon after consultation with city officials in New Orleans, the National Weather Service, The Department of Homeland Security and the NFL.
Ida struck Cuba on Friday showing hallmarks of a rare, rapidly intensifying storm that could speed across warm Gulf waters and slam into Louisiana as a Category 3 hurricane on Sunday, the National Hurricane Center warned.
If so, the storm would strike the Louisiana coast 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina leveled parts of the Mississippi Coast and ruptured storm protection levees around New Orleans on Aug. 29, 2005, causing about 80% of the city to be affected by flooding that in some neighborhoods left only roofs above water.
The Saints also had a preseason game the Saturday night before Katrina struck little more than 24 hours later and the team wound up being displaced to San Antonio for all of the 2005 regular season. The Saints played just four home games in Louisiana that year, all at LSU’s Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. The Saints also played three home games in San Antonio’s Alamo Dome and one in Giants Stadium.
New Orleans’ levee system has been rebuilt and upgraded since Katrina, but marshlands that historically helped protect the city from storm surge have steadily thinned because of coastal erosion, and the city’s pumping system has struggled in recent years to handle heavy rains before it fills streets and sometimes invades homes and businesses in certain neighborhoods, some of which lie below sea level.
Saturday’s game with Arizona is the preseason finale for both clubs and it is unclear how many snaps starters will play in what is the last chance to players on the fringes of each roster to audition for a regular season job.
The Saints are scheduled to open the regular season in the Superdome against Green Bay on Sept. 12.
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