JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The New Orleans Saints are marching into TIAA Bank Field on Sunday to take on the Green Bay Packers in Jacksonville after Hurricane Ida knocked out power to all of New Orleans and the city is still recovering.
The Jaguars play their season opener in Houston this week.
The Vice President of Brand Strategy for the Saints, Jen Martindale, said Jacksonville welcomed the team with open arms.
“Moving this game was the right thing to do for the city so that we didn’t distract resources or attention away from the storm recovery efforts that are taking place across the area,” said Martindale.
Katie Miltura, the director of marketing for Visit Jacksonville, says September is usually a slow month for visitors. Miltura expects the game to have an economic impact.
“We estimate with two teams visiting that’s going to be a strong indicator that we will probably have an impact of somewhere to $5 to $10 million,” Miltura said.
Derek Dilworth is from Wisconsin, but lives in Charleston. He said he had tickets for the game in New Orleans.
“Last minute, found out it was here and canceled the flight to go to New Orleans and drove down here,” he said.
As of Friday evening, about 25,000 tickets had been sold for Sunday’s game.
“If even half of that number is visitors, that’s 13,000 out of town folks that are coming to enjoy our city that wouldn’t come otherwise,” Miltura said. “Jacksonville is the most affordable beach vacation.”
We asked who was going to the game on our News4Jax Facebook page:
Randy said: “Go Pack Go! Front row seats in the Bud Zone!”
Michael said: ”Who Dat! Sure Am!”
And Quinn commented: “My daughter and I are going, sitting at the top of the tunnel. So excited for it!”
Those coming out to the game will have to follow the Jaguars’ stadium COVID-19 protocols on Sunday.
According to the Jags’ website, masks are recommended for unvaccinated guests. Those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 are encouraged to take extra precautions.
All public spaces and surfaces will be cleaned before fans arrive and throughout game day. Certified disinfection specialists in blue vests will be seen cleaning throughout the game. Hand sanitizing stations are available throughout the stadium.
Although far from home, the Saints said “Who Dat?” will be heard in the River City.
“I think they’re going to see a taste of the rituals that we try to have at every single home game for the New Orleans Saints. We’ll bring a little bit of New Orleans with us,” said Martindale.
The game starts at 4:25 p.m. and the gates open two hours before kickoff.
The mayor of New Orleans said she expects the Saints to return to the Superdome for their week four matchup against the Giants.
For information on the Saints’ Hurricane Ida relief efforts, go to https://www.neworleanssaints.com/.