BATON ROUGE — For the third consecutive season, LSU will get an extra home football game — give or take 87 miles east.
The Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans will be the site of the Advocare Texas Kickoff game between No. 13 LSU and Brigham Young on Saturday, LSU and ESPN announced Monday. It was originally scheduled to be played at NRG Stadium in Houston. The Texas city has been dealing with catastrophic rains and floods in the area from Hurricane Harvey's impact over the weekend.
NRG Stadium suffered no structural damage by the storm, Superdome director Doug Thornton said, but it was placed on lock down as the streets and highways around it in Houston were flooded along with all other major roads.
Thornton also oversees the management of NRG Stadium along with several other major stadiums around the country.
Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge also was a possible contingency site for the game, said LSU deputy athletic director Verge Ausberry, who handles football scheduling for LSU.
“ESPN had to make a difficult decision and we are well aware of the awful circumstance that led to this move,” athletics director Joe Alleva said. “Every storm is different, but we in Louisiana understand a little about what all of those in Harvey’s path are going through right now. It’s heartbreaking and our prayers go out to all who are impacted.”
In 2015, LSU learned three days before its game at South Carolina scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 10, would be moved to Tiger Stadium because of historic flooding in the Columbia, S.C., area. LSU won, 45-24, in a game that was treated as if it was a home game for the Gamecocks, which received gate receipts.
Last year, LSU received an extra home game when its schedule game at Florida on Oct. 8, was postponed due to Hurricane Matthew and eventually rescheduled for Tiger Stadium on Nov. 19. LSU will play at Florida in 2017 and 2018 to make up for its lost home game.
Unlike LSU's moved games with South Carolina and Florida the last two years and the LSU-Arizona State game in 2005 that was moved from Tiger Stadium to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., because of Hurricane Katrina's impact, the LSU-BYU game is neither team's home game.
It is a neutral site game put together by ESPN and Lone Star Sports & Entertainment of Houston, which operates the Advocare Texas Kickoff.
According to LSU's contract for the game, LSU will receive $4 million from ESPN for playing in the game, including if it is rescheduled to another date or moved to another stadium. The exact amount BYU is contracted to receive has not been made public as it is a private university and not susceptible to public records requests, but it is believed to be in the $2 to $3 million range. Should the game be cancelled after "reasonable efforts" to move or reschedule it, ESPN is not financially liable to LSU or BYU, according to the contract.
"Most importantly, our thoughts and concerns are with the people in South Texas," BYU's athletic department said in a statement released by BYU associate athletic director Brett Pyne Sunday. "We are in discussions with all parties involved and continue to monitor the situation."
Thornton said he does not expect to make any money on the game should it be moved to the Superdome, which hosts a NFL preseason game Thursday night between the New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens.
"We would want our costs covered if this happens," said Thornton, who said it would take 3,000 people to put on the game, including security, law enforcement, production people. "But we won't profit. It's not about that. We're trying to help out. We know what it's like to be in their situation at NRG Stadium."
The Saints had to move all of their home games from the Superdome in New Orleans to Baton Rouge and San Antonio, in 2005 as the dome's roof was ripped off by Katrina winds, and the Sugar Bowl that year was played to Atlanta.