Friday, December 2, 2005

Saints Kicked Out Of Alamodome


from the AP

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- The one place the New Orleans Saints could call home during this hurricane-displaced season was the Alamodome.

And now that's about to change -- the NCAA takes over the Alamodome next week for its women's volleyball tournament.

The football team's locker room will move to a high school baseball field. The weight room will go into a tent on the field's parking lot. The front-office personnel will relocate to a city water works building.

"We've been doing this -- moving around -- all year," offensive guard Kendyl Jacox said. "So, at this point, nothing surprises me."

"This would be acceptable if I was in high school," he added. "As far as a professional team, no, it's not."

Saints officials knew this was coming when the team agreed to move its headquarters to San Antonio after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans three months ago. The NCAA event has been scheduled for more than a year, and it requires almost all the space in the Alamodome.

This is not the first time the Saints have had to shuffle because of another event in the Alamodome. A home builders exposition took over much of the dome for a week in October. A large house and other buildings were erected, and later torn down, inside the stadium.

But the players, who have frequently practiced at a high school field near the Alamodome, still could dress in the locker room, receive treatment in the trainer's room and lift weights in a large room across the hall.

Most of the moving will happen Monday. The Saints can't move back into the Alamodome until about two weeks before the end of the season. The NCAA has the dome for a week a half starting Dec. 8. The Saints have one more game in the Alamodome this season -- Dec. 24 against Detroit.

Because their first game after the move is on a Monday night against Atlanta, the Saints won't lose a practice day. But moving is still a headache.

"We're trying to keep it as close as we can routinewise, but obviously we can't do that," coach Jim Haslett said. "We'll come in next Monday and work here at the Alamodome. Everything will be moved out that night and set up the next day."

Haslett already misses the only semblance of routine the team has had this season.

"Last Friday we walked out of our meeting rooms and into a locker room and onto this (Alamodome) field, and I said 'This is great,"' said Haslett, whose 3-8 team plays Tampa Bay in Baton Rouge, La., on Sunday. "We didn't have to get on a bus to travel 20 minutes back and forth.

"Practice was great. It was great because you were right here. You didn't have to go anywhere. It was stable, reliable. That's what you want. That's what everybody in the National Football League has."

Under the new arrangement, Haslett said a typical workday will start with game films and team meetings at the city water works building directly across the interstate from the Alamodome. The building was left mostly vacant when the utility moved to new offices last month.

The team will bus to its other practice site at the San Antonio School District Spring Sports Complex, where the baseball locker rooms are adjacent to the football field. Players can lift weights after practice before another bus ride back to the team offices.

"NFL standards, huh?," kicker John Carney said. "We just know we're operating on a different playing field than our opponents. It's a challenge for us to overcome it."

Players will be filled in next week on their schedule for the trainer's room at the baseball field. They don't expect much luxury.

"Right now, I don't know how we're going to work everything out," Jacox said. "You don't say this is why things are going the way they are on the field, but there are little things you'd like to do, things that you're accustomed to. I mean, we've got a trash can for a cold tub."

Saints owner Tom Benson and general manager Mickey Loomis met Monday with NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue. Players have told league officials they don't want a repeat of what has happened this year.

Haslett echoed that sentiment this week when discussing the team's options for next year.

"Staying like we are right now is not (an option)," Haslett said. "Bouncing from facility to facility, moving next week to another locker room, moving to another building, practicing at different fields, getting practice interrupted, changing schedules every day."

"It's not the way it should work in the National Football League," he added. "That one's out."

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