Posted on: April 11 2012"Hotels and restaurants to be the big winners."
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
BY: Richard A. Webster, CityBusiness
The NCAA Men’s Final Four was, by all accounts, a huge success for New Orleans.
But compared to the Super Bowl, it was just a warm-up act.
The basketball tournament had a $135 million economic impact, according to the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation.
The Super Bowl is expected to have an impact of $423 million.
There were 2,000 credentialed members of the media in town for the Final Four, and 5,500 are expected for the Super Bowl.
“The Final Four was fantastic. It was huge,” said Jay Cicero, president of the Sports Foundation. “We had 20,000 more people here than the last time we hosted the Final Four (in 2003). But it’s not fair to compare anything to the Super Bowl.”
The Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation is the official host for the Super Bowl.
It’s responsible for handling everything associated with the big game including VIP events, security, traffic control and rounding up 8,000 volunteers.
Total expenses for the host committee are $12 million, half of which comes from the state with the other half raised through donations.
Cicero said the organization has already generated $4.3 million from private interests.
“It’s always difficult to raise that kind of money, especially in an area that doesn’t have a lot of Fortune 500 companies,” he said. “But you find the business community realizes the value of the Super
Bowl not only to New Orleans but the state. And by participating with us, they are not only sponsoring the Super Bowl host committee but helping our efforts to possibly bring it back.”
The biggest winners in the Super Bowl sweepstakes are hotels and restaurants.
Shortly after the NFL announced three years ago that New Orleans would host the 2013 championship game, the league blocked off nearly 90 percent of the city’s 37,000 hotel rooms.
The agreed upon room rates are said to be equivalent to what hotels charge during Carnival season, but the real value is in the quality of the guests.
Unlike the Final Four, which is largely attended by fans of the teams, virtually everybody who attends the Super Bowl hails from the corporate world, said Stephen Perry, president and CEO of the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The NFL hands out tickets to its sponsors, vendors and major advertisers, who use the event to fete their own high-powered clients. They throw lavish parties in hotel meeting space, bars and surrounding restaurants.
“For restaurants, you’ll have the highest ticket averages and wine purchases than at any point during the year,” Perry said.
Virtually every venue in the city, large and small, is already booked with NFL-related parties over Super Bowl weekend and as the date grows closer, the money will begin to spread, Perry said.
“Floral shops, decorators, performers, organizations that arrange mimes or acrobats or tarot card readers or musicians, during this period there is the highest usage of those businesses than with any other event that comes to city,” Perry said. “Every event is valuable, but in pure lucrative opportunities for small and mid-size businesses, the Super Bowl provides the greatest depth and breadth.”
The benefits will even flow across the Louisiana border.
“There were people staying in Baton Rouge for the Final Four because every room in the city was sold out,” Cicero said. “So Baton Rouge and even the Mississippi Gulf Coast will do incredible business during the Super Bowl.”