LSU moves Arizona State football game to Tempe
Monday, 09/05, 7:45 p.m.
By William Kalec
BATON ROUGE - Les Miles will make his technical “home” opener, two times zones and a different kind of heat away from Tiger Stadium.
After insisting all week that LSU would do whatever it could to keep this Saturday’s contest against No. 20 Arizona State in the familiar muggy confines of Tiger Stadium, logistical concerns created by Hurricane Katrina forced the game to be moved to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.
For the past week, several LSU athletic facilities have been transformed into medical centers and shelters for evacuees of Hurricane Katrina. That coupled with the lack of hotel space for Arizona State players, game and conference official, plus the ESPN crew, were factors in the switch.
Original tickets issued for the Arizona State-LSU game at Tiger Stadium are valid for exchange and admittance at Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday, but those wishing to do so must contact the LSU ticket office - (225) 578-2184 or (800) 960-8587 - by 2 p.m. Wednesday.
After Arizona State covers the cost of hosting the event, proceeds will be donated to relief effort funds. Both schools signed a home-and-home agreement for 2005 and 2008. Though this year’s game is being moved, the Sun Devils will keep their 2008 home game but are committed to make a return trip to Baton Rouge in the future, LSU athletic director Skip Bertman said.
“No athletic director would want his football coach to open up on the road with a top 20 team and lose home-field advantage,” Bertman said. “Chancellor (Sean O’Keefe) and a group of athletic department people worked for a long time trying to solve every problem. But in the end there were some concerns that we just couldn’t control.”
LSU is scheduled to begin its actual home campaign Sept. 24 against No. 3 Tennessee - the latest Tiger Stadium opener since 1977 - but that is contingent on a steady, positive progression of events across North Stadium Drive.
“It’s hard to tell,” O’Keefe said, about the Tennessee game. “At this juncture though, all the signs, all the trends are moving in the right direction.”
Alternative regional sites were considered for this Saturday’s contest.
“We thought of everything,” Bertman said. “From going to the University of Mississippi, which is vacant this Saturday, to Shreveport. But there were reasons why we decided on this trip and they are pretty solid. I don’t think anything would have been better than this trip.”
Moving the game, however, takes away a major payday from LSU, which like most Division I-A athletic programs relies on football profits to support its non-revenue sports. LSU is still in discussions with several Sun Belt Conference schools to maneuver dates so that it may host North Texas on Oct. 29 after last week’s postponement.
“There is no question the budget works out to seven games,” Bertman said. “There is no question about it.”
Bertman said it’s possible the athletic department could make up some of that difference should Tiger Stadium host some or all of the New Orleans Saints remaining seven home games, but O’Keefe earlier stated that the franchise only made contact with the university Sunday and that talks are preliminary.
After a week of so much uncertainty, several LSU players expressed relief in final knowing what would happen this Saturday and the site of their opener.
“Every time I watched - at least an SEC game - I’m like, ‘WE’RE SUPPOSED TO BE PLAYING THIS WEEKEND!” LSU wide receiver Skyler Green said. “So it’s going to be an exciting game. I think if we go and have a lot of our fan base, it will be a good game.”