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Southern running back Devon Benn (2) gets past Grambling defensive back Damien Crumitie (4) during the second half of the 46th Annual Bayou Classic at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. Southern won 30-28.

Would Southern and Grambling play the Bayou Classic in a stadium other than the Mercedes-Benz Superdome?

Southern University athletic director Roman Banks discussed that possibility with the Southern University Systems meeting Friday in Shreveport.

Reached by phone Saturday, Banks stressed that parameters and logistics of fall sports, including the Bayou Classic, still change daily because of the coronavirus pandemic. But he said the possibility of not playing the annual game in New Orleans in 2020, and perhaps 2021, — is a possibility. Despite reports to the contrary, Banks said no final decision has been made.

The 47th Bayou Classic is scheduled for Nov. 28. Of the previous 46 games, only one happened outside New Orleans. That was the 2005 Bayou Classic, which moved to Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

LSU’s Tiger Stadium, Shreveport’s Independence Stadium and Southern’s A.W. Mumford Stadium are options that would offer the chance to socially distance fans for the annual game that showcases Louisiana’s largest historically black colleges.

Banks noted that "nothing is etched in stone." He also point to a SWAC conference meeting later this month as a pivotal point as the 2020 fall season moves closer.

“We don’t know if the city of New Orleans will be open to hosting a large event like this by November. There are so many unknowns," Banks said. "Our goal would obviously be to get back to New Orleans as soon as possible. But there are three other sites I definitely think we should look at.

“Tiger Stadium at LSU and Independence Stadium are both sites that are large enough to accommodate the fans for both schools. And Mumford also is another possibility.”

Voluntary workouts soon

Banks also said Southern is in the process of planning for athletes in some sports to return to campus after July 4 to begin voluntary workouts.

“We are still finalizing how it will work,” Banks said. “We are going to start bringing athletes in a few sports back to campus sometime after July 4. We look forward to taking that step.”


Email Robin Fambrough at rfambrough@theadvocate.com