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Tailgating returns as Saints fans adjust to 'new normal'

"We will never be normal but I feel like the new normal is working for us. We're coming back and as they say, build back better..with the start of our team."

NEW ORLEANS — It's homecoming for Saints fans in more ways than one. 

Covid-19 forced reduced capacity for months and then Hurricane Ida had the team on the road for weeks to start this season.

"I am feeling really good. I am feeling really really good."

Sunday was the first time since January 5, 2020, that Saints fans were completely packed into the Superdome for a meaningful home game.

Last season, only a few thousand fans got to attend.

There was a home preseason game back in August, but Sunday was finally the real thing.

Tailgating is also finally allowed again and fans say it is a tradition they sorely missed.

"The atmosphere. People coming out. Everyone is speaking. And they come by and everyone is happy."

Credit: AP
New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill (7) carries for a touchdown against New York Giants cornerback Adoree' Jackson (22) in the second half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Derick Hingle)

The dome is back at full capacity but there are still strict covid-19 rules in place, including proof of vaccination or a negative covid test. Plus everyone is required to wear a mask in the dome.

"So you have no problem with any of the extra rules and regulations in the dome?
"No, no, that's for protection."
"To me. I feel it's important so as far as covid with the dome I am loving it."
"Just comply. Just do what they ask you to do, it's all good, rather not wear a mask but if you have to, you have to."

Fans were told to give themselves plenty of extra time to drive to the dome because some traffic lights in the area were still out because of Ida but the ones in front of the dome on Poydras were working ahead of the game.

"Any delays with the lights being out? No, not at all."

Back at the tailgate party, fans said the crowds are not as large as years past but say either way it started to feel at least a little bit more like normal.

"We will never be normal but I feel like the new normal is working for us. We're coming back and as they say, build back better..with the start of our team."