Thus far this year I’ve been able to attend two college football games, the LSU opener at Death Valley against Mississippi State and a few weeks later the battle between two of the SEC’s Tiger teams in Columbia, Missouri.
Yes both games were less than a joy to watch, though I did get to see the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers at Cairo (pronounced Kay-roh), Illinois on the drive up so it wasn’t a wasted drive to Missou-rah.
And while the universities have mostly found a way to get socially distanced asses in seats and masked faces in stands, the city of New Orleans has leisurely sashayed its way through the front end of the NFL season not seemingly in any hurry to even partially host fans in the Superdome.
The Saints and stadium management have successfully demonstrated effective crowd management strategies to limit the possibility of spreading COVID-19 in the Superdome.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell didn’t seem all that motivated to shift gears and when reports spread in eatly October about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reaching out to “her honor” about getting fans back in the dome, Cantrell glibly said she hadn’t bothered returning his message saying she was mad about a certain playoff game no-call two years ago.
The local media yukked it up though the joke was really on Saints fans, wage earners whose incomes are supplemented by working Saints games, and those city workers taking pay cuts because of the budget shortfall caused by the shut down of the Crescent City’s tourism oriented economy.
Airline Drive also didn’t seem amused as they started callin’ Baton Rouge about moving Saints home games back under the stately oaks, where the Black and Gold played some of their games during the Katrina season.
After initially acting nonplussed publicly stating she was fine with the relocation, Mayor Cantrell all of a sudden seemed willing to open the Superdome up to more than the 700 player families and team staff.
But the number that the two parties settled at seemed bizarre.
The Superdome’s football capacity is 73,208 though a mere 3000 fans would be distributed across the lower bowl (Plaza Level) of the cavernous stadium.
A minuscule 4% of the Superdome capacity would be allowed inside.
The allowable capacity would be doubled to 6000 for the November home games against San Francisco and Atlanta and then raised to 15,000 for the Kansas City and Minnesota games in December.
Does anyone for one second believe science is driving these decisions?
It’s more like science fiction as the mayor revels in her authority.
And its not just locals taking notice of the policy absolutism taking place in New Orleans.
While Goodell should not be accorded status as an honored figure, dismissive treatment of the most powerful sports commissioner in America is not a good look. Especially after the league just did New Orleans a solid by allowing us to swap Super Bowl dates from 2024 to 2025 so as to not conflict with Mardi Gras.
Most of the publicly-aired grievances have been aimed at the mayor, however the disgruntled should not be reluctant to redistribute some of their ire to the City Council, which has nary challenged Cantrell’s restrictive edicts.
Any potential challenger to Cantrell’s reelection from the council should not be taken seriously as an agent for change.
They had their chance and went the route of an opportunist waiting for his or her moment.