NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Bowl may have a bit more Cajun flavor this year.
With the Superdome awaiting massive repairs and New Orleans projected to be cleaning up from Hurricane Katrina for months, the December bowl game may move to Lafayette, La., said Billy Ferrante, executive director of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation.
"We have had some very preliminary talks with the folks at Louisiana-Lafayette and our first choice is to keep the game in Louisiana," he said. "Hopefully, we will have a decision wrapped up in a couple of weeks."
The 5-year-old bowl game matches the champion of the New Orleans-based Sun Belt Conference with a team from Conference USA. Louisiana-Lafayette is a Sun Belt member. This year's game is scheduled for Dec. 20.
Sun Belt commissioner Wright Waters said his office and C-USA had been prepared to take over operating the game this year if the Sports Foundation proved unable to, but applauded Ferrante's decision.
"That's what's best for everyone," Waters said. "It's good to know that the Sports Foundation is up and running. We're very interested in hearing their plan, but we'll do whatever we can to make this work."
And if the game had to be moved, Lafayette seemed like a good choice to Waters.
"First off, it's one of our conference members," he said. "And beyond that, Lafayette is a city with plenty of amenities to entertain the teams and fans."
What happens to the bowl beyond this year depends on the restoration of the Superdome, which is expected to take at least a year, if it's done at all.
"This is the Sports Foundations signature event," he said. "And we want to be part of the rebuilding of New Orleans. It may mean we have to relocate some of our other events around the state in the coming year, but were going to stick around."
Waters has relocated the Sun Belt offices to Tuscaloosa, Ala., along with some of the other conference staff members. He intends to inspect the conference offices in the Pan-American Life Building next week, but is uncertain when the league might move back to New Orleans.
In other Katrina developments:
The New Jersey Devils will donate $1 from every individual ticket sold through the end of the month to hurricane relief efforts. The team also will partner with the Community FoodBank of New Jersey and Jersey Cares to sponsor food and clothing drives at Continental Airlines Arena during preseason games on Sept. 25 against the New York Islanders, Sept. 27 against the New York Rangers and Sept. 30 against Philadelphia.
The North American soccer community raised over $135,000 for the U.S. Soccer Foundation's hurricane relief fund. The money was raised through an online auction of game-worn, autographed jerseys of MLS players, as well as members of the U.S. national team and Mexican national team.
New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington and receiver Wayne Chrebet will join Hall of Famers and other former NFL players answering phones and taking pledges as part of a telethon put on by ABC, ESPN and the NFL on Monday, Sept. 19 from ABCs Times Square studio in New York.
So far, NFL owners, clubs and players have contributed nearly $10 million to hurricane relief.