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Column on Saints’ move to Jacksonville for season opener sparks Twitter war

Hurricane Ida forces game to move to TIAA Bank Field

Hurricane Ida forces game to move to TIAA Bank Field.
Hurricane Ida forces game to move to TIAA Bank Field.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A New Orleans newspaper columnist is under fire from Jacksonville city officials and Jaguars fans over an article about the New Orleans Saints moving their season opener to TIAA Bank Field.

The Saints chose Jacksonville to play their first regular-season game against the Green Bay Packers because of the extensive damage in New Orleans from Hurricane Ida.

New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist Jeff Duncan wrote an article entitled “The inside story of how the Saints picked Jacksonville for their ‘home’ opener.” In the article, Duncan starts off by writing:

“‘What a stupid place to play!’

‘Who wants to go there to watch a game?’

‘Of all the Florida cities, this is the one we pick?!’

“Well, actually, yes.

“Jacksonville’s relative inaccessibility and unattractiveness as a destination location were the exact reasons the Saints elected to play there.”

The column, which Duncan tweeted out on Wednesday, was immediately met with a response from city of Jacksonville spokesperson Nikki Kimbleton, who tweeted:

“Wow. What a classless and hateful article. Never in my 25 year career in news would I dream of insulting a city and all of its residents. Especially when they are being hospitable. I could stoop to your level but instead; Enjoy your trip to Jax covering the game and be well.”

In the article, Duncan goes on to explain all of the reasons why TIAA Bank Field was chosen by the Saints for the game on Sept. 12, including hurricane damage in New Orleans from Ida, NFL requirements, and the claim that Green Bay fans won’t want to visit Jacksonville, giving New Orleans the advantage.

“If you were a Packers fan, where would you rather travel? South Beach? Ybor City? Or Jacksonville?” Duncan says.

Duncan goes on to write: “Anyone that’s been to Jacksonville knows it’s a gem, with its world-class golf, nearby beaches and fan-friendly stadium. But the reality is it pales in comparison to Miami and Tampa as destination location.”

Curry’s first tweet about the article reads: “We welcome your team and your fans with opens arms. And you talk nasty about our city. The people of our city are kind, charitable and welcoming. The arms remain open in the face of cheap shots. Let’s play some @NFL 🏈 and we look forward to @packers and @Saints visiting us.”

About an hour later, the mayor responded to another tweet about the article, saying: “I read it. The column opened with 💩 on our city. I get the context about strategy. But 💩 stinks Anywhere it’s dropped. Jax is a good city with good people.”

But it seems all is well between the columnist and the mayor.

Duncan responded to the mayor’s first tweet, saying: “All in good fun, Mayor Curry. Saints officials have raved over the hospitality of the Jaguars staff and Jacksonville people.”

To which the mayor said: “Appreciate it, 😀. Have fun if you make the trip!”

A city spokesperson told News4Jax the Saints reached out to Curry, saying the owner of the Saints wants to personally apologize to the mayor.

News4Jax also reached out to Duncan to see if he wanted to comment further but we’ve been unable to reach him.


About the Author:

Tarik anchors the 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday newscasts and reports with the I-TEAM.