SBD/Issue 16/Franchises

Saints Draw Raucous Crowd At Alamodome, But Shy Of Sellout

Saints Fall Short Of Sellout
In San Antonio Opener
A crowd of 58,688 attended yesterday’s Bills-Saints game in San Antonio, short of a sellout in the 65,000-seat Alamodome, according to David King of the SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS. But the crowd was “impressive –- and noisy,” and Saints Owner Tom Benson “credited the ... fans for providing the emotional support that he said sparked” the team to a 19-7 win (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 10/3). One Saints official “described the percentage of season-ticket holders from New Orleans ... as ‘insignificant.’” In San Antonio, Mark Wangrin reports 8,000 tickets were supplied for evacuees and San Antonio-area relief workers (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 10/3). Benson “predict[ed] either sellouts or near capacity crowds” for the team’s two other games at the Alamodome, October 16 against the Falcons and December 24 against the Lions. Also in San Antonio, Tom Orsborn reports while just 5,000 tickets remain for the Falcons game, close to 40,000 tickets are left for the Lions game (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 10/3). In L.A., Diane Pucin notes there were “huge pockets of empty seats” at the dome (L.A. TIMES, 10/3). In Dallas, Rick Gosselin writes the crowd “was disappointing by NFL standards,” but San Antonio “doesn’t have to apologize for the size of the crowd.” The Saints “played in front of two smaller crowds last season” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/3).

CROWD SUPPORT: CBS analyst Rich Gannon said of the crowd noise after a delay of game penalty on the Bills, “You talk about this home-field advantage. These fans are excited to have the Saints here. (The noise) obviously caused some confusion for (Bills QB J.P. Losman).” CBS’ Don Criqui said, “They really do have a home-field advantage. You can’t believe the decibel level in this building.” Gannon: “I’ve never heard a building louder.” But after Bills RB Willis McGahee ran for 25 yards on his first carry, Criqui said, “A lot of Bills fans are here” (CBS, 10/2). Saints DE Charles Grant said, “It made me feel like I was back in New Orleans again. I think that’s what we really needed” (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 10/3). Benson said of the crowd, “These fans were really into it. ... They were responding to what these guys have been through, a terrible tragedy” (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 10/3).

Pregame Festivities At Alamodome
Include New Orleans Flavor
FEELS LIKE HOME: The EXPRESS-NEWS’ King reports pregame festivities included a “dash of down-home Saints flavor, from a Dixieland band ... to members of the cheerleading squad, the Saintsations, who sold calendars outside the gates,” and New Orleans native Irvin Mayfield playing the National Anthem. There was “no shortage of fans sporting Saints merchandise,” including some bootleg T-shirts that said, “San Antonio Saints.” However, licensed merchandise “wasn’t exactly sailing off the shelves.” One vendor outside the Alamodome said, “It’s been slow. We haven’t been too busy” (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 10/3).

NOT AMERICA’S TEAM: The EXPRESS-NEWS’ Wangrin writes it “looked and sounded like a typical ... Saints game through the cameras and microphones of CBS. ... Those expecting a full-scale, advertisement for San Antonio as full-time host, though, would be disappointed.” A CBS spokesperson said that just 5% of the country saw the game locally, including “all of Louisiana, San Antonio, upstate and western New York, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and scattered stations throughout Texas” (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 10/3).

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