Game officials were expecting more than 50,000 fans at LSU’s season opener against BYU in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Saturday night, and New Orleans should see a $50 million economic impact this weekend.
As of Friday, about 50,000 tickets had been sold, game officials confirmed, and they expected several thousand more in walk-up sales Saturday. New Orleans was estimated to see an economic impact $50 million to $55 million, said Stephen Perry, president and CEO of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The game-goers joined about 200,000 in town for Southern Decadence, an LGBT celebration held in New Orleans each Labor Day weekend. Hotels in the city for Saturday night were at 96 percent capacity, Perry said, an “extremely good” number.
“When LSU comes in, it’s an incredible bar and restaurant impact,” Perry said Saturday afternoon. “The weather is so spectacular. It’s beautiful.”
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LSU sold out its allotment of 25,000 tickets in about three hours, officials said this week. Many BYU fans had been in town for days: Several alumni groups flew into New Orleans on Wednesday night.
Officials moved the game from flood-ravaged Houston, the announcement made Monday. ESPN and the NFL's Houston Texans, the contractual co-owners of the game, chose the Superdome over several other neutral-site options, including Orlando, Florida; and Nashville, Tennessee.
The revenue made at the game belongs to ESPN, the Texans and Lone Star Sports & Entertainment, a marketing company affiliated with the Texans that hosts the kickoff games.
Superdome officials treated the game as if it were in Houston, brandishing the arena inside and out with AdvoCare Texas Kickoff signage. The turf had the same logos and emblems that were set for NRG Stadium. The stencils and paint were brought over from Houston.
The Superdome and the city partnered with the Red Cross for fundraising efforts for those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Messages seeking donations were expected throughout the Superdome, and scrolling banners were expected on the television broadcast, Perry said. The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau contributed $25,000 to the effort, Perry said.
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