ATLANTA — The Saints’ Tom Benson missed a breakfast with his fellow NFL owners on Tuesday where he would have the chance to solicit votes on behalf of New Orleans’ bid to host Super Bowl LII in 2018.
But Benson arrived in Atlanta in time to give a 5-minute address to his peers at the end of New Orleans’ bid presentation in the afternoon, Saints spokesman Greg Bensel said.
The NFL is expected to choose the site of the 2018 Super Bowl soon thereafter — New Orleans is a finalist alongside Indianapolis and Minneapolis.
Doctors who had recently performed a surgery to repair a torn medial meniscus in Benson's knee instructed him to stay at home until the last possible moment and to only travel if he felt well. So, he obeyed their orders and waited until later in the day to decide whether to go to the NFL Owner's Meetings, Bensel said.
Benson's plane landed in Atlanta before 12 p.m. central standard time.
Rita Benson LeBlanc, Benson’s granddaughter as well as the Saints’ co-owner and vice chairwoman of the board, attended an 8 a.m. league owners’ breakfast and worked the room for votes in favor of New Orleans’ bid for Super Bowl LII. She was accompanied by team President Dennis Lauscha.
LeBlanc said she was ready to speak to NFL owners during the New Orleans bid committee’s presentation in case her grandfather didn’t make it to Atlanta.
“He would do anything to be here,” LeBlanc said. “His willpower far exceeds his body and pain tolerance.”
New Orleans is seeking to host a record 11th Super Bowl and to break a tie with Miami. Super Bowl LII could be the eighth NFL title game at the building now known as the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
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, the bid’s reasoning goes.