SAN ANTONIO - The New Orleans Saints will head back to their home state for four games at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La., and will play three others in San Antonio's Alamodome, their headquarters since being displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
While the team and league settled that matter Monday, most of the specifics are still being determined. Ticket plans are being worked out, too, as are ways to tie proceeds to the relief effort.
Many of the Saints are living in a hotel across an interstate from the Alamodome. So they'll have a short commute for games Oct. 2 or 3 against Buffalo, Oct. 16 or 17 against Atlanta and Dec. 24, 25 or 26 against Detroit.
The team will travel to the LSU campus for games Oct. 30 or 31 against Miami, Nov. 6 or 7 against Chicago, Dec. 4 or 5 against Tampa Bay, and Dec. 17, 18 or 19 against Carolina.
The Saints seemed please with the split, which enables them to reach out to fellow Louisiana residents trying to recover from the devastating storm while also showing appreciation for the hospitality they've received in Texas.
"I think the fact of what San Antonio did for us - we had no other place to go where something like this was set up - that's what made this happen," Saints owner Tom Benson said.
Speaking publicly for the first time since the hurricane, Benson repeatedly deflected discussions about the team's future.
"We're not going to worry about that today," he said, adding that his only long-term goal is getting the Saints to the Super Bowl this season.
After spending last week getting settled into a new routine in San Antonio, coach Jim Haslett began to like the idea of playing in the Alamodome.
"It's more of a travel issue," he said. "I know what their agenda was, to play as many games as possible in our home state. Our players like that, too. ...
"I'm not really worried about the location," he said. "Our first concern is just to win football games."
No decision was made on the site of potential Saints home playoff games this season.
Agreement on the schedule was reached after a meeting Monday in Baton Rouge involving Benson, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, LSU chancellor Sean O'Keefe and other school officials.
"We had an excellent meeting this morning and quickly developed a dual consensus," Tagliabue said. "The first was to continue to give priority to the needs of the region and the second to the scheduling of Saints games in a way that made sense under the total circumstances. ... We also appreciate the cooperation of the Alamodome officials and the hospitality of the people of San Antonio for their support of the Saints at this difficult time."
The Saints won their season opener 23-20 at Carolina on Sunday. Their first home game was set for this coming Sunday, but was moved to Monday night and will be played at Giants Stadium against the Giants. Saints season-ticket holders and anyone who had purchased tickets for the Giants-Saints game at the Superdome were given first call for tickets to the relocated game. After that, however, Giants season-ticket holders were given priority, meaning it will be a true road game for the Saints.
The manager of the Superdome has said it will take months before the building's future can be determined. It's possible to stadium will be torn down, leaving the Saints to find a new home.
During Hurricane Katrina, with thousands inside seeking refuge, three large holes were blown through the roof. In all, about 70 percent of the roof failed and water poured into the building during the storm, along with debris.
Benson has a home in the San Antonio area and for decades owned car dealerships in the city. He urged local fans to fill every seat and he encouraged the networks to bring the games to a national audience to "give this city great recognition for what they've done for the New Orleans Saints."
"It's most important for there to be capacity crowds to attend every game we have here," Benson said. "It could make me proud, not only of our football team, but show what kind of city you have here."
Henry Cisneros, a former San Antonio mayor and former Cabinet member in the Clinton administration, attended Benson's news conference and said he expects a great turnout.
"I think San Antonio will fill the Alamodome three times," he said.
The stadium seats roughly 65,000 for football.