LSU's football game against Missouri is expected to be relocated from Tiger Stadium to Faurot Field in Columbia, Missouri, on Saturday because of Hurricane Delta, multiple sources told The Advocate on Tuesday.
A long day of discussions between the schools explored multiple options at different neutral-site locations, and, ultimately, moving the game to Missouri became the most realistic option.
LSU has never played Missouri in its home state, and it took one of the most turbulent years in recent memory to make it happen.
The Category 4 Delta is the sixth gulf storm to take aim at Louisiana, and weather projections forecast the storm is expected to make landfall in southeast Louisiana on Friday night or Saturday morning.
Southeastern Conference spokesman Herb Vincent said in a statement Tuesday evening "a final decision on the status of the game is expected to be announced on Wednesday morning."
"As we continue to monitor the path of Hurricane Delta, all preparations are being made to accommodate playing the game as scheduled in Baton Rouge or to move the game if necessary," Vincent said.
Throughout Tuesday, multiple sources said, the schools explored moving the game to Houston's NRG Stadium and Arlington's AT&T Stadium.
There were difficulties in both options because both NFL franchises, the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys, have scheduled home games on Sunday, and questions arose if the stadiums could be properly sanitized overnight to follow COVID-19 protocols.
Shreveport's Independence Stadium was also an option, multiple sources said, but, by the end of the day, Faurot Field emerged as the choice for relocation.
In an official statement, the LSU athletic department said Tuesday they "are closely monitoring Hurricane Delta" and "are in close communication" with Southeastern Conference and Missouri officials "on contingency plans should they become necessary."
"At this time, it is too early to make a determination on any impact the storm may have on Saturday's football game against Missouri," the statement continued.
KOMU-TV, an NBC affiliate in Columbia, reported LSU had secured a block of hotel rooms in Columbia. The move indicated LSU was keeping its options open, and the station also reported a Missouri spokesperson said the school is preparing to host while also keeping their rooms booked in Baton Rouge.
The station later reported that a university source said Missouri would host LSU on Saturday at 11 a.m.
The @SEC is monitoring weather activity in the Gulf of Mexico and will remain in contact with member schools in preparation for athletics events this week.— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) October 6, 2020
LSU and Missouri have only played twice, once before in conference play. LSU beat Missouri 42-7 in Tiger Stadium in 2016, and Missouri beat LSU 20-15 in the 1978 Liberty Bowl.
A shift in homefield advantage isn't as large a factor this year. Every SEC team has decreased their stadium capacities significantly to fall in line with local health and safety guidelines. Missouri's Faurot Field's capacity is estimated to be in the range of 20% to 25%.
LSU's football season has already been shortened to a 10-game, league-only campaign due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the program had to delay the beginning of its June workouts because of Tropical Storm Cristobal.
Weather has disrupted other LSU games in recent history.
In 2017, Hurricane Harvey forced the LSU-BYU season-opener to relocate from Houston's NRG Stadium to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. LSU won 27-0.
The year before, Hurricane Matthew postponed LSU's game against Florida in Gainesville on Oct. 8, 2016. The game was played on Nov. 19 in Tiger Stadium, and Florida won 16-10. LSU then played back-to-back games in Gainesville in 2018 and 2019, and the teams split wins in each year.
In 2015, extensive flooding from Hurricane Joaquin in Columbia, South Carolina, forced the LSU-South Carolina game to relocate to Baton Rouge. LSU, which won 45-24, raised South Carolina's state flag inside Tiger Stadium, and the place cards in the press box read: "Welcome to Williams-Brice Stadium (Tiger Stadium Edition)."