Although the Saints and the NFL have talked with officials in Baton Rouge about the idea of moving games to LSU's Tiger Stadium so fans can be in attendance, that would require ample preparation time. The earliest it could happen is November -- and likely not until Week 11 against the Atlanta Falcons on Nov. 22.
The Saints' next scheduled home game after Carolina is Week 10 on Nov. 15 against the San Francisco 49ers. But LSU is hosting Alabama the day before, and it would be difficult to host both games in Tiger Stadium on back-to-back days.
The Athletic was first to report that Sunday's game will remain in New Orleans. The Saints have not made any official announcements.
The Saints would like a limited number of fans to be allowed in the Superdome. But so far, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has denied their requests while the coronavirus restrictions on large gatherings remain tighter in New Orleans than the rest of the state.
The team has openly campaigned for the mayor to change her mind, disagreeing last week with her statement that "no NFL stadium in the country with a fixed-roof facility" has allowed fans in games.
The state of Louisiana has allowed fans into games. LSU allowed 25% capacity for its lone home game, on Sept. 26.
Saints spokesman Greg Bensel said Monday evening that team officials had a "productive meeting" with Mayor Cantrell, Ochsner Health president Warner Thomas and other medical advisers.
"The city continues to see COVID positivity rates remain stable. The city currently has one of the lowest rates in the nation. We all agree that the priority is to make sure our city's residents and our fans are safe and not to regress from the progress that has been made," Bensel said in a statement. "We look forward to providing our fans more information shortly."
Meanwhile, Saints coach Sean Payton embraced the idea of moving games to Baton Rouge if that's what it takes to get a home crowd.
"I welcome it. I don't think there'll be many challenges. I mean, it's right up the road," Payton said of Baton Rouge, which is about 80 miles to the northwest of New Orleans. "You'd be playing on grass outside in a great environment. And so if it was playing in the dome with no fans or playing up there with 25,000 of our fans, then every one of us would make the second choice.
"To me, that would be exciting."
The NFL has offered its support to the Saints, including in an email sent earlier this month from commissioner Roger Goodell to Cantrell. A source confirmed to ESPN that NFL medical experts would be willing to meet with New Orleans officials.
According to the NFL, 15 teams currently have approval to host spectators from the general public at varying percentages of stadium capacity: Atlanta, Carolina, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Miami, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Tennessee.
The Saints have allowed 750 family members of players and staff into each of their past two home games in the Superdome as a "test run" for what they hope will be a wider opening in the near future.