Mayor says N.O. ready for big game

Posted on: January 24 2013

“We’re no longer preparing to host the Super Bowl. We’re hosting it as we speak.” Mitch Landrieu, New Orleans mayor

January 24, 2013

BY DANNY MONTEVERDE, The Advocate-New Orleans bureau

New Orleans — Eleven days before the big game, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said the city is ready to host Super Bowl XLVII.

Landrieu said Wednesday that the many infrastructure projects that crews have worked to finish by the time crowds begin to arrive, including the Loyola Avenue streetcar line, will be completed and cleaned up by Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, public safety officials said they are ready to begin deployment strategies aimed at the safety of residents and the estimated 150,000 people who will be in town for the Super Bowl and Carnival celebrations, some of whom have already arrived, the mayor noted.

“We’re no longer preparing to host the Super Bowl. We’re hosting it as we speak,” Landrieu said during an afternoon news conference across from Jackson Square.

Landrieu and others last week showed off $300 million in improvements to Louis Armstrong International Airport. On Wednesday, Landrieu said $336 million worth of renovations to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome have been completed.

The city, state and federal government have spent $75 million on improvements to highways, streets, sidewalks, streetcars and streetscapes. Additionally, the hotel industry has spent $400 million on renovations, Landrieu said.

Mark Romig, president and CEO of New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp., said he expects the Super Bowl to have a $432 million economic impact on the city.

“I thank you for allowing yourself to be inconvenienced to allow us to be on the world stage,” Landrieu said, noting the frustration many locals have expressed because of traffic delays caused by road work and other game preparations.

New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said officers from neighboring parish, state and federal agencies will supplement the 1,260 officers he oversees.

He said two groups of about 400 officers from multiple agencies will staff 12-hour shifts to protect the Central Business District and French Quarter areas. He promised that neighborhoods will not see a reduction in regular patrols.

“We are all hands on deck,” Serpas said. “This department is the best in the world at handling large crowds. We show that year in and year out.”

While the work to make this year’s Super Bowl happen has been ongoing for years, Jay Cicero, executive director of the New Orleans Super Bowl Host Committee, said work is already under way to secure the city’s 11th Super Bowl.