Home-field advantage has become a major point of pride among Saints fans, and for good reason. The Saints are 19-5 the past three seasons at home, and not a primetime game goes by where national audiences don’t praise the Saints’ crowd for its Who Dat chants, costumes and general raucousness.
Unfortunately, in the Saints’ Week 1 2020 opener against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers on Sep. 13 — one of the most anticipated Week 1 matchups in the league — the Saints won’t have that Domefield advantage. The team announced on Wednesday that the start of the season will be played without fans, as COVID-19 continues to disturb the mode in the United States and, more specifically, the state of Louisiana.
“Unfortunately, at this time, the trends across our state and region do not meet the standards of health and safety we have established with our healthcare and government partners to host fans in the stadium for the first home game,” the Saints said in a press release on the decision.
While this decision, as of now, only applies to the Sep. 13 home opener, fans should expect it to go on longer.
“The team, along with health and safety experts, will continuously monitor trends to determine if fans will be able to attend the September 27 game vs. Green Bay. Although the current guidance we have received from our government leaders, suggest this to be unlikely, we remain prepared to host fans if allowed,” the team said.
Saints President Dennis Lauscha said that it will take the combined efforts of the entire population to get fans in stadium again.
“We must do everything within our power to improve the current trends not just so that we can attend games together, but so that our kids can go back to school safely, so that commerce and our economy can reopen and so that generations of Saints fans can attend games together safely. We believe in fighting for our fans and all of the economic benefits for our city. We need our community to put all of its considerable determination into fighting this virus, and hopefully, we will be celebrating a season-long return of fans to our games,” Lauscha said in the team’s release.
As MLB, the NBA and the NHL continue to play games without fans, the news is hardly a shock. The Saints join the Buffalo Bills, New York Giants, New York Jets, Las Vegas Raiders, Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington Football Team as teams who are committed to playing early-season games without fans. Other teams have already announced reduced-capacity crowds.
While this may put a damper on Drew Brees’ possible last ride, the Saints appear to be on the right side of things and may be preempting an eventual league-wide mandate. It’s unclear how long things are going to go this way in 2020, but the Saints appear to be looking on a game-to-game basis.