Houston, Texas and surrounding communities have been pounded by record-breaking rain and flooding since the arrival of Hurricane Harvey at the start of the weekend. As water levels have continued to rise, a number of events have been postponed, relocated, or cancelled altogether for fan safety.
The highest profile event to be affected was the season opener for Louisiana State University’s football team. LSU athletic director Joe Alleva has announced that the Tigers’ season opener this Saturday against BYU will “almost certainly” be relocated.
Up to five venues are in talks for hosting the game, but a final decision has not yet been made. The Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans reached out to NRG Stadium, the original venue planned for the college kick-off, to let them know that the Dome is available for their use on Saturday should they choose. Both stadiums are managed by Philadelphia-based arena management company, SMG. The Superdome is hosting an NFL preseason game between the Saints and the Baltimore Ravens this Thursday night, but said they could get arena ready for LSU’s use in two days if they take up the offer.
The Dome’s general manager Alan Freeman told The Advocate that they would need to be notified of the decision by Tuesday in order to prepare- mostly by making sure to have the appropriate level of staff, which can be more than 3,000 employees at a typical game- but that “we’d welcome them or anything else we could do to help. We could do it and are prepared to do it.”
Staffing is a major concern in the decision to relocate the game out of Houston, as well. NRG Stadium has apparently not been flooded, but surrounding streets are underwater and medical and security staff are hard at work assisting victims of the storm. NRG Park, the area that houses NRG Stadium, was scheduled to be used as an emergency operations center. It has received 16 inches of rain in a 22-hour period and emergency officials were struggling to reach the stadium to begin emergency set-up on Sunday morning.
The game set for Saturday between Louisiana State and Brigham Young is not owned or run by either school; since the game is an AdvoCare Texas Kickoff event hosted by ESPN, it is ultimately up to those two entities and NRG to decide when and where the game will be played. The only other mitigating factor would rule out a one-day delay on the basis of the Brigham Young University’s policy against athletic teams playing on Sundays, in accordance with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Several other Houston area-based sports teams have had to make adjustments since the hurricane hit. The University of Houston football team is holding this week’s practices at the University of Texas – Austin campus. Sam Houston State University has postponed a game that was supposed to be held on Sunday, and both of Houston’s professional soccer games cancelled this weekend’s games.
Several concerts scheduled for the weekend in and around Houston were also postponed. Coldplay were set to perform at NRG on Friday night, as well as Mary J. Blige at the Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land, Simple Plan at the House of Blues, and The Piano Guys at Revention Music Center. A Lady Antebellum show set for Sunday night at The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands, Texas was postponed, too.
As of last week, LSU had sold 23,000 of its 25,000 allotted tickets for their season opener and BYU had sold out its full share of 9,400 tickets. A decision is expected to be made soon regarding a new venue for the game.
Hurricane Harvey is a Category 4 hurricane with winds over 130 miles per hour and record-breaking rainfall. Both airports in Houston are closed, and thousands of residents are stranded in the storm. Read more on Hurricane Harvey and how to help here.