NEW ORLEANS (Dec. 15, 2005) -- Saints players say a recent meeting with NFL Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw left them with the impression that they'll most likely report to work at the team's undamaged training headquarters in suburban New Orleans next season.
Upshaw met with Saints players in San Antonio and said he favored returning them to their training facility in Metairie and having them split their eight regular season home games between Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge and the Louisiana Superdome, if possible, players said.
"That's the feeling we got. It's all subject to change," cornerback Fred Thomas said. "He's not the man who'll make the decision. ... They're basically telling us that to give us some light at the end of the tunnel."
League officials are focusing on Louisiana as the home for the Saints next season. They are waiting until early next year to make an official announcement because they want to make sure recovery efforts take priority.
The Louisiana Superdome should be ready to host pro football by Nov. 1, officials who manage the stadium announced this week.
NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue called the condition of the Saints' training facility "excellent" after a recent tour.
Players' homes fared relatively well with the exception of rookie Jammal Brown, whose eastern New Orleans home flooded. Most players have homes west of the city, where there was little or no flooding.
"Based on what I heard, it was more yeah than no that we'll be back in New Orleans next year, about 70 to 30," receiver Donte Stallworth said.
But receiver Joe Horn said Upshaw could not tell players for certain "whether to renew our lease and get prepared to stay here, or don't renew the lease and get prepared to move back."
"That's what everybody wanted to know, and Gene couldn't tell us that," Horn said. "The closest he got to telling us was that we'll know our schedule by January."