Posted on: October 10 2013
By Terrance Harris, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
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on October 08, 2013 at 6:24 PM, updated October 08, 2013 at 7:00 PM
New Orleans could be in for a huge party to kick off its Tri-centennial anniversary after the NFL invited the Crescent City, along with two other cities, on Tuesday to bid for the right to host the Super Bowl in 2018.
And should the city be successful in its bid to host Super Bowl LII, much of the credit will belong to New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, who once again played the role of ambassador in convincing the NFL owners to consider the city for what would be a record 11th Super Bowl bid. Benson made the city's case first in front of the Super Bowl Advisory Committee on Monday and then again Tuesday in front of the 31 other team owners during the owner's meeting in Washington, D.C.
As a result of his effort, New Orleans has been invited to bid on the 2018 Super Bowl along with Minneapolis and Indianapolis.
"I've got to hand it to Mr. Benson," said Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation president and CEO Jay Cicero, whose organization partnered with the Saints to land the invite. "We are very happy and very proud to be partnered with the Saints on this bid. Hopefully if we are successful we will be able to host a record 11th Super Bowl here in New Orleans in 2018."
And if all goes well, the city and its organizers are looking forward to topping the previous 10 Super Bowls that have been hosted here in what will be the celebration of the 300th year of the birth of New Orleans. The city's Tri-centennial figures to be a major theme in the bid the Saints and the Sports Foundation will present during the NFL owner's spring meetings May 19-21 in Atlanta.
"That is a very special year for this city and state so that is going to be a major part of our bid," Cicero said. "That will be a year long celebration having the Tri-centennial and hosting another Super Bowl in the same year here in New Orleans."
The city, which is coming off a successful hosting of Super Bowl XLVII in February when the Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, earned the right to bid against a strong slate of interested cities.
Miami, which is currently tied with New Orleans for hosting the most Super Bowls at 10, was not selected to bid for the 2018 Super Bowl along with Tampa and Dallas.
The cities left standing with New Orleans were Indianapolis, which hosted a highly successful Super Bowl in 2012, and Minneapolis, which will be opening its new stadium in 2018.
"The competition is fierce, very fierce," said Cicero, who organization is taking part in its fourth Super Bowl bid. "It has grown tremendously in the past 10 years. The economic impact, the media exposure and all the other notoriety and the type of visitors that come to Super Bowl are all big reasons why cities are going all out to get it back to their stadiums or first time cities like New York-New Jersey who are hosting this year have gone all out to bid on the event."
New Orleans, of course, seems like the early favorite due to its location and experience having hosted Super Bowls in 1970, 1972, 1975, 1978, 1981, 1986, 1990, 1997, 2002 and 2013. But Cicero said the city can't simply count on its long tradition of hosting Super Bowls alone due to the competition that now exist.
"I think we have about as good a chance as we've ever had to get it," he said. "But having gone through this several times, we have won it by a landslide and we've won it by two votes so you never know.
"It's a very competitive process and hopefully we will be in that number when the NFL owners chose which city will host the 2018 Super Bowl."
And should the city be the last standing once the 32 owners vote in May, it will be largely because of the influence of Benson.
"One of the hallmarks of Mr. Benson's legacy and tenure as an NFL owner has been his desire and focus to get Super Bowls to the city of New Orleans. It's one of the most important things on his agenda," said Saints senior vice president for communications Greg Bensel. "He feels very strongly about it. He thinks New Orleans is the best city to host a Super Bowl. He puts a lot of effort into it.
"Mr. Benson is extremely excited about the opportunity to put this bid together, especially for the time in New Orleans history, the 300th anniversary."