ATLANTA — The room was quiet after sleepy-eyed reporters showed up Tuesday to a 7 a.m. breakfast with officials in charge of New Orleans’ bid to host the 2018 Super Bowl, the result of which would most likely be known sometime later in the afternoon.
Then, Saints spokesman Greg Bensel soon broke the silence by explaining why the breakfast was scheduled at a relatively early time for sports journalists: the last time such a gathering was held was in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 2009, and New Orleans that day won a bid to host Super Bowl XLVII in 2013.
The team and its city, Bensel said, were hoping for a similar result Tuesday, when the NFL was expected to pick one of three finalists to host Super Bowl LII: New Orleans, Indianapolis or Minneapolis.
At this point, Bensel figures whatever it takes to help to help New Orleans get the Super Bowl bid, even if it is a little bit of superstition.
The two men responsible for delivering a 15-minute presentation to NFL owners on New Orleans’ bid understood that superstition. But both Entergy Chief Administrative Officer/Executive Vice President Rod West and New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau head Stephen Perry opted against superstitiously wearing anything they donned the day they gave a similar presentation at the conclusion of the successful bid to hold the NFL’s 2013 title game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Echoing points they’ve made in preceding days, they said they know they must re-earn their place in front of the NFL’s owners, who make decisions rooted solely in business sense and not in nostalgia.
West and Perry added that NFL owners were the one group of people they’ve made a pitch to in their respective business careers who managed to be completely stoic and expressionless in reaction to a presentation.
“When we’re talking to groups and things, you can read people’s faces and get the tenor of the room,” West said. “This one — it is a tough crowd.”
Another layer to tricentennial tie-in
By now, it’s well-documented that one of the primary focuses of New Orleans’ Super Bowl bid is the fact that 2018 will mark the 300th anniversary of the city’s being founded.
Not many American cities have achieved a tricentennial, and that fact has the potential to get New Orleans international attention the NFL can capitalize on. Andy Kopplin, the chief administrative officer for New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration, was one of many to allude to that notion at the breakfast Tuesday.
Furthermore, though, Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District Chairman Ron Forman said there was another layer: a 2018 Super Bowl in New Orleans would provide an opportunity to tell the tale of a city that in 2005 was inundated and devastated by Hurricane Katrina but then bravely fought to rebuild and recover in time for its 300th birthday.
“It’s much bigger than a football game,” Forman said of Super Bowl LII, if it was in New Orleans. “It’s a really important story.”
The LSED, comprised of seven gubernatorial appointees, maintains and operates the Superdome as well as other venues in the area.