Commissioner Paul Tagliabue will meet with LSU officials on Monday and get a first-hand look at conditions in Baton Rouge with the session likely to determine where the New Orleans Saints play their home games in 2005. It is believed that Saints owner Tom Benson will also attend the meeting with LSU chancellor Sean O'Keefe.

League and team officials have indicated they would like to resolve the issue of where the Saints will play by next week.

The scenario Saints officials have presented to the league includes four games in San Antonio at the Alamodome and three games at LSU. The team's "home" opener is set for Sept. 19 at Giants Stadium against the New York Giants.

Saints players, already road-weary and with their normal routines disrupted, have overwhelmingly indicated that they prefer to play the seven remaining home games in San Antonio. It would permit them to spend more time with their families and to regain some sense of normalcy. Players voiced those sentiments to NFL Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw during a Thursday meeting.

But it looks increasingly like the seven remaining home games will be split between San Antonio and Baton Rouge.

"They officially want three games [at LSU] and are talking about a fourth and perhaps more, but that hasn't been resolved yet," said Bernard Boudreaux, chairman of the LSU board of supervisors, and one of the school officials involved in negotiations with the Saints and the league. "All we know about is three games. I guess we'll find out more when we sit down Monday."

The three games the Saints hope to play in Baton Rouge are Oct. 30 against Miami, Dec. 4 against Tampa Bay and Dec. 18 against Carolina. If the Oct. 30 game is played at LSU, it would bring first-year Dolphins coach Nick Saban back to the campus where he was so successful, and won a national championship.

Asked about the possibility of playing at LSU, Saban said: "My only feeling is that the situation and the circumstances that created this whole thing is unfortunate for a lot of people. I think that it is unfortunate for the Saints that they have to go through a lot of changes to do what they have to do. But probably more importantly, [I feel] for the fans and all the people affected by this tragedy."

Logistics remain the biggest hurdle in Baton Rouge, a city whose population has swelled with the influx of Hurricane Katrina evacuees. What Tagliabue will find in Baton Rouge is a town in which it might not be feasible to stage Saints games until later in the year. Many of the city's hotels are filled with evacuees and, with about 150,000-200,000 new residents, the roads in and out of Baton Rouge are gridlocked.

The league has apprised LSU and Baton Rouge officials that it requires 260 to 270 hotel rooms for game days.

"If you drew a circle around Baton Rouge," Boudreaux said, "you'd have to go pretty far out to find any venue that had available hotel rooms to handle an event of this magnitude. There just aren't enough rooms, even as far as Shreveport and Lake Charles, and you can't come in [for game day] from too far."

In San Antonio, an agreement between the city and the Saints for four home games is all but completed. The team would receive all the revenue from ticket sales, concessions and parking and would reimburse the city for expenses to operate the Alamodome. But the agreement must be approved by the NFL and Tagliabue will ultimately determine where the Saints play their home games, with Monday's meeting a key element in the decision.