NEW ORLEANS — For now, and in the weeks ahead, the “Friday Night Lights” at City Park’s Tad Gormley Stadium will remain dark.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell made it clear, getting kids back in school is a priority and high school football is not.
“The reality is New Orleans is in Phase 2,” Cantrell said. “So, the guidelines that are in place as it speaks to any contact sports, the bottom line we’re in Phase 2.”
That means no prep football for now in New Orleans.
City Health Director Dr. Jennifer Avengo accused the Louisiana High School Athletic Association of not having a plan to keep players and coaches safe from the Coronavirus.
This week, the LHSAA executive committee voted to start playing games in Louisiana on Oct. 2.
“We have reached out to LHSAA for their updated guidance to what they would consider in a football season and a football game in terms of practice,” Avegno said. “They are not ready yet. They don’t have it yet.”
That sets up an interesting potential opportunity for the former Zephyr Field on Airline Drive, just across the border in Jefferson Parish.
Jefferson Parish and the rest of the state are now set to move to the next phase of Coronavirus restrictions on Friday.
Contact sports are expected to be allowed with certain restrictions in Phase 3.
“We’re supposedly going into Phase 3 which would give us the opportunity to offer Zephyr Field for high school football,” said Kyle France, Chairman of the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District, the state board that manages Zephyr Field. “We’re certainly open to doing that for the student athletes in order for them to play here locally.”
France added the now vacant minor league baseball stadium has the capacity to seat high school football fans according to state social distancing guidelines.
“I think it will be a limited number of fans as part of Phase 3,” France said. “Once we get that order we’ll take a look at it and see what we can do in order to make that happen.”
France said Zephyr Field would only be used for high school football if it can be done according to all of the state’s coronavirus restrictions.
We will have a better idea of what those restrictions will be on Friday when Gov. John Bel Edwards announces what Phase 3 will look like.