Arena renovations could force VooDoo to alter schedule

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wwltv.com

Posted on August 14, 2012 at 6:04 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 14 at 6:36 PM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS - The New Orleans VooDoo is looking for a new general manager.
     
GM Jon Norris was fired by the Arena football team after a disappointing loss in the first round of the playoffs this year.

The team will spend the off-season trying to improve on an 8-11 record and finding a place to play many of its home games.

That's because the home turf at New Orleans Arena will not be available.

"We're anticipating closing the Arena down around May 1 to start this construction work and it will probably be closed for about five to five and a half months just in time to start the Hornets new preseason," said Arena General Manager Alan Freeman.
    
The state agreed to pay for $50 million in renovations as part of the lease deal that keeps Hornets basketball in the Arena through  2024.

Freeman says the work cannot be done with the VooDoo in the building.

"Some games will be in New Orleans and some games will be displaced," said Freeman. "It remains to be seen how many games will be displaced, but my guess is probably about half the season."
    
VooDoo team owner Dan Newman did not want to comment about the prospect of playing many of his home games on the road next season.

He said, "It's hard to respond to something we have no knowledge of...as far as we know, we'll be back in the Arena next season."

AFL Commissioner Jerry Kurz issued a statement late Tuesday saying that the league could accommodate the VooDoo by either starting the season much earlier, or front-loading the team's schedule to place most of the home games early in the season.

“Many times in the 25-year history of the Arena Football League, have teams in arenas that have multiple professional sports teams had to deal with upgrades and renovations. The AFL has been very proficient in working schedules around the challenges those teams have had."

Renovation work is expected to be underway at the New Orleans Arena for the next two basketball off-seasons which means some VooDoo home games may be displaced again during their 2014 season.

Sources close to the team say the VooDoo is already considering alternative sites in Lafayette, Baton Rouge, Bossier City and Biloxi.

The team just wrapped up a two-year deal at the Arena.

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