Jay Cicero, Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation
It’s been 11 years since Jay Cicero oversaw his last Super Bowl as president and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation. Eleven years ago, the Super Bowl in New Orleans was the first post-9/11 Super Bowl. This year’s game is New Orleans’ first post-Katrina Super Bowl. Cicero has been with the sports foundation since 1995, and before that between 1990 and 1992. In the interim years, he was general manager of the Class AAA New Orleans Zephyrs. He talks here about plans for this year’s Super Bowl, and why one of the more memorable features from last year’s Super Bowl in Indianapolis won’t be seen overhead this week.
On the first Super Bowl in NOLA after Katrina: It is absolutely huge for us. Having been involved with the last two New Orleans Super Bowls (1997 and 2002), I can tell you the city and state and our citizens are so excited about this. We may have taken for granted in the past that Super Bowls are coming and they are just part of the business of New Orleans tourism. The Super Bowl has just grown so much in the last 11 years, and we have such a story to tell — and the story is recovery and resiliency.
About the planned Super Bowl Boulevard: It is more of a boardwalk-type event. It has got that type of sense where it is [like] a boardwalk: You are going through, you might see the NFL Network do their show, Roman numerals will be there, go over to a tent to take a picture where Verizon is giving something away for free, go over and get some New Orleans crawfish, etouffee … some incredible music you can’t hear anywhere else — and then you can go to one of the sponsors’ tents next. And it will just be a great place for people to come.
The role of the sports foundation: Our model is a bit different than other cities in that we are the actual managing group. We do the men’s Final Four, women’s Final Four, the New Orleans Bowl. Our model is different from other cities for Super Bowls in that they create host committees and work for four years, and then three months after the Super Bowl, they disband. And for us, we bid out big events as far out as we possibly can, and fill in with quality midsized and smaller events.
On if New Orleans considered a zip line: We have a zip line 365 days a year. It’s called Bourbon Street.