SBD/Issue 2/Facilities & Venues

Reliant Stadium Suffers Hurricane Damage, Ravens-Texans Moves

Experts Today To Examine Damage To Reliant
Stadium Roof Sustained During Hurricane Ike 
SMG, which manages Reliant Stadium, is "bringing in experts to assess the damage to the roof as well as other parts of the stadium" as a result of Hurricane Ike, which moved through the Houston area over the weekend, according to John McClain of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. SMG Senior VP/Stadiums and Reliant Park President Shea Guinn: "We're still in the process of cleaning everything up. There's water and wind damage throughout the stadium. ... We won't know anything concerning when the stadium will be ready until we sit down with them (the experts) midweek." McClain notes due to the "extensive damage to Reliant Stadium ... the Texans have asked all employees to stay home until Tuesday" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/15). McClain reported the storm "took five panels out of the stadium roof." Guinn: "There is some structural damage to the roof. Part of it is off. There's also other damage on the property caused by wind and water." The Texans and the NFL "didn't want to comment about the possibility of not being able to play at Reliant Stadium, referring questions about the damage to Guinn" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/14).

NEW SCHEDULE: The Ravens-Texans game originally scheduled to be played in Houston yesterday and then moved to tonight has been rescheduled for Sunday, November 9 at 12:00pm CT at Reliant. The Bengals-Texans game that was to be played on November 9 has been moved to October 26, the bye week for both clubs. The Ravens were scheduled for a bye on November 9, but instead this past weekend will count as a bye week for both the Ravens and Texans (Mult., 9/13). In Baltimore, Jamison Hensley reported the NFL had discussed playing Ravens-Texans tonight at an "alternate site -- possibly New Orleans or Atlanta -- but it ultimately decided to move the game to a later date." One reason for the "postponement was the potential problem of getting the Texans to one of those sites because the airports in Houston have been shut down." Ravens President Dick Cass said that when the NFL was "talking about alternate sites, moving the game to Baltimore wasn't discussed." The NFL "felt some backlash in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when it forced the [Saints] to play a scheduled home game against the [Giants] at Giants Stadium." Hensley noted while NFL teams "have had their games relocated because of severe weather, reshuffling the schedule is an unusual move" (Baltimore SUN, 9/14). ESPN's Chris Mortensen: "The networks were involved certainly in this decision as well" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 9/14).

ADDITIONAL CHANGES COULD COME: Fox' Jay Glazer reported if there is a "lot of damage to the stadium, there’s already talk about swapping" the Colts-Texans Week 5 game to Indianapolis, then playing the Week 11 game between the teams in Houston (“Fox NFL Sunday,” Fox, 9/14). McClain suggested if Reliant Stadium is not ready for Colts-Texans on October 5, the team could look at nearby Rice Stadium. McClain: "While it's not up to NFL standards, it seats 70,000. (The Texans) don't want to have to relocate like the Saints did from New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina drove them all the way to San Antonio. So I suspect they will not be leaving Houston because they've got a stadium close by that they could use in an emergency” (“NFL GameDay Morning,” NFL Network, 9/14).

MORE IMPORTANT PRIORITIES: Fox' Glazer noted the Ravens “wanted to play (and) it really came down to the reaction of the Houston Texans players,” who worried about leaving their families in the wake of damage in the Houston area from Ike. Glazer: “Commissioner Goodell, obviously very sympathetic to that” (Fox, 9/14). SI.com's Peter King writes, "For much of Saturday, I was on the side of the Ravens, who wanted to play their game with Houston somewhere -- New Orleans if not Houston -- tonight." However, he changed his mindset after talking to Texans TE and player rep Mark Bruener. Bruener: "You'd have to see what's happened here to believe it. ... If we had been asked to leave town and play a game somewhere else, it'd have been hard to have our minds in the right places, especially for guys who had to leave families behind" (SI.com, 9/15).

NFL Receives Praise For Postponing
Ravens-Texans Game Until November 
NFL HANDLED SITUATION WELL: In Baltimore, David Steele wrote, "Give the NFL a big hand for figuring out how to not move the game to another city. ... Anything else would have been unfair to Houston and the Texans." The NFL's "juggling of the schedule to accommodate the two teams and the city was more deft than the league usually shows itself to be." The NFL "worked this out in about four days, max," and in that span, the league "bought itself time by initially bumping the game back a day, then kept the idea of moving the game to a neutral, distant site as a next-to-last resort." Steele: "Helmet stickers for everybody" (Baltimore SUN, 9/14). The HOUSTON CHRONICLE's McClain wrote the NFL "did the smart thing Saturday by postponing" the game until November (CHRON.com, 9/13). But in Baltimore, Mike Preston wrote under the header, "Goodell Handled This Situation Incorrectly." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "should have just asked the Texans and their families to leave early and come to Baltimore." Preston: "From what I understand, [Texans Owner Bob McNair] didn't want to lose the home date, but under the circumstances, he shouldn't have been given any options" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 9/13).

RECOVERY FIRST, GAMES SECOND: In Houston, Richard Justice wrote under the header, "In Due Time, Games Will Help Greatly." Justice: "Not one cent, not one man hour should be spent on getting [Reliant and Minute Maid Park] ready to play until we're on the road to recovery in our neighborhoods and schools, until we begin to become whole again. ... At some point, we'll get back to the games. When we do, those games may feel more important than they were before. They're going to be an island of normalcy" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/14).

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