SBD/Issue 100/Events & Attractions

Saints Fans Flocking To New Orleans As Super Bowl Approaches

Saints Have Ignited Mass Rush To
New Orleans During Typically Slow Time
The Saints, playing in their first-ever Super Bowl just a week before Mardi Gras, "have ignited a mass rush" to New Orleans, according to Rick Jervis of USA TODAY. In a week that "usually finds New Orleans hotels half-empty, most hotels in the French Quarter and surrounding downtown area are nearly sold out." Rubicon Group CEO Steve Swope said that before the January 24 Saints-Vikings NFC Championship, New Orleans' "major hotels were booking rooms at a pace of 1,600 a day." He added that after the game, they were "booking 5,900 a day -- a 267% jump." Swope noted that fans "usually don't flock" to the cities of teams participating in the Super Bowl, and hotels in Indianapolis "did not register a significant increase in reservations for this weekend" (USA TODAY, 2/5). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Amir Efrati writes New Orleans residents are "preparing for the first Super Bowl appearance by the Saints," and "everything else, it appears, can wait." Efrati: "Pre-Mardi Gras parades have been rescheduled. Some restaurants are closing on a non-holiday for the first time. Sunday evening Mass is canceled across much of the city, with the blessing of the local archbishop." Efrati also notes many area high schools "will be closed Monday, and several court trials won't begin until at least Tuesday" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/5). Meanwhile, in Miami, Edwin Pope notes Saints fans "aren't painting South Florida red" for the Super Bowl, they are "painting it Who Dat." Pope: "The two-word battle cry is scrawled across billboards. Crayoned onto car windows. Painted onto sidewalks. It's Who Dat pandemonium." Pope writes Saints fans are "fueling this 44th Super Bowl with fresh blood." Hotel owners are "rubbing [their] hands with glee, and the restaurants favored by tourists keep the pots boiling out Who Dat fumes" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/5).

BIG EASY TAKING AWAY FROM SOUTH BEACH: Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said of being in Miami for the Super Bowl, "This is the most subdued Super Bowl atmosphere that I've seen in the 35 years that I've been going to Super Bowls." Paige: "I think it's a situation where the people in New Orleans are partying in New Orleans. That's the party city, not down here" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 2/4).

BOND LIKE NONE OTHER: In a special to ESPN.com, Democratic strategist James Carville wrote to say New Orleans is "now buzzing would be a gross understatement." The Saints organization for so long "has been a metaphor for all the ills of New Orleans -- always trying to get over the hump but continually falling a little bit short; a team and a city short on luck." But during the team's Super Bowl run, the Saints have "become a symbol for not only what can be but also what is." Carville: "New Orleans is moving. She's recovering. But the Saints are more than a symbol of or for New Orleans. ... What this Super Bowl run has done possibly more than anything else is forever link this luck-starved franchise with the city I am now proud to call home. They're one and the same" (ESPN.com, 2/4).

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