JACKSONVILLE, Fla. —
TIAA Bank Field, the home of the Jacksonville Jags is transforming into the second home of the New Orleans Saints after the team had to relocate its season opener in light of widespread damage from Hurricane Ida back in Louisiana.
But the team is excited to put on a show with the help of their NFL family. In fact, on Sunday, it’ll be two weeks since Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana as a category 4 hurricane.
”We got scared pretty quickly because the storm grew so quickly and strong,” said Sam Shannon, a spokesperson for the Saints.
Shannon lives in New Orleans and says though his family is safe, they’re among those who lost power. He says the power outages forced them to relocate, and the Jags were happy to lend their home.
The Jags are playing in Houston this weekend against the Houston Texans.
”They’ve welcomed us with open arms,” Shannon told Action News Jax enthusiastically.
Jacksonville’s location also played a role.
”Everybody who evacuated from New Orleans typically goes to the panhandle of Florida,” Shannon explained. “We wanna have as many fans and have that home-field advantage as best that we can.”
For Shannon, every bit of support counts.
”Not only is it the first game of the regular season, but we’re also playing Aaron Rodgers in the Green Bay Packers, which is no easy task,” he pointed out.
The next task: transforming TIAA Bank Field into the Saints’ second home.
And now, the final pieces are falling into place. The crews have been working to set the stage for five days.
They worked all throughout the morning hours on Friday to add fresh paint, with the Saints signage already in place. The famous fleur-de-lis symbol is sitting at the 50-yard line.
″It feels electric,” Shannon said.
For Shannon, this experience was a chance to bring the NFL family together, and to connect with his own family too.
”My grandpa actually lives in Ponte Vedra so I got to go have lunch with him the other day so it’s kind of a blessing in disguise,” he pointed out.
And on Sunday, the Saints will remind everyone what their city stands for.
”We can’t wait for kickoff,” Shannon said. “The City of New Orleans is resilient and I know that we’re gonna get back on our feet.”
Kickoff time on Sunday is still at 4:25 P.M. You can watch the game on FOX30. You can still buy tickets from the Jags box office or online at Ticketmaster.com.
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