The city of New Orleans is preparing to host its 10th Super Bowl out of the 47 years of the NFL’s biggest game on Sunday, February 3rd. It is an even bigger event for the city than any of the other nine held there, mainly due to the fact it will be the first one since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina almost destroyed the city, the New Orleans Superdome, and the culture and pride of the Crescent City.
As a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, this writer was fortunate to be able to be on a conference call with some of the members of the Super Bowl Host Committee on Thursday afternoon, January 24th. After some initial comments from some of the Committee members, we were allowed to ask any questions we wished to the Committee. We asked well-known political strategist James Carville, a New Orleans native just how big an event the Super Bowl would be for New Orleans in light of coming back from Hurricane Katrina.
“That’s a very good question, and this sounds like I’m punting but I’m not. We won’t know ‘till it’s over. My hope if things go the way we hope is it can help bring some real closure here, and that the city can show what it can do. But you just don’t know that feeling until you’re through with it. All of us on the committee are trying not to focus on that. We’re trying to focus on the mission at hand.”
“Sometimes I wake up at night and say if this thing goes well this can really help people put a lot of things behind ‘em. Yes, that thought has crossed my mind. But I can’t allow myself to think like that. We’re a little bit like these teams. You can’t think what it’s like to win, you just gotta prepare. That’s been the attitude here.”
“I can tell you, it’s building not just excitement, but building civic pride here. The city is 375,000 people. You go to a lot of places in the NFL and its much bigger cities. So its impact is felt everywhere. I’m not gonna allow myself to think of it, but I think there is a chance. We’re very grateful to the NFL we got a chance to put this on and we’re hoping we can do everything we can to make it go well. I think for the writers you’re gonna be in for a real treat.”
“Let me point out one thing. On the day of what I call the Engineering Failure, you call it Katrina, there were 809 restaurants in this city – in this area. Today there are 1,330. Right from the media center, there are 15 I’m talking about first-class places that exist now that did not even exist in 2002. You’re gonna be stunned. That weekend we estimate there will be 150 different bands playing. We know you guys gotta work,, you got deadlines but we really want you to enjoy our culture. There’s more music in this city that there’s ever been. The state of our culture is deep and it’s very strong.”
The stage is set and New Orleans will be abuzz next week as thousands of NFL fans and fans of the two teams participating, the San Francisco Forty-Niners from the NFC and the Baltimore Ravens from the AFC, hit the city to revel and take in the sights before the big game on February 3rd. It promises to be an exciting game, as it will be the first time in Super Bowl history that two brothers battle against each other for the biggest prize in sports—the Lombardi Trophy representing the World Champions of American Football. Jim Harbaugh is the head coach of the Forty-Niners and his brother John Harbaugh is the coach of the Ravens.
The Mirror will have additional stories from New Orleans next week, so be sure to check online each day beginning next Tuesday, January 29th.