New Orleans declares itself favorite for 2018 Super Bowl

Usually it’s the Big Apple with the egotistical reputation. But when it comes to hosting big events, no place has a higher estimation of itself than the Big Easy.

Just a day after the list of six 2018 Super Bowl suitors was trimmed to three, New Orleans officials are declaring themselves the front runner for the big game. Minneapolis and Indianapolis are the other finalists after Dallas, Miami and Tampa got cut by NFL owners Tuesday.

“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,” New Orleans Times-Picayune reporter Terrance Harris wrote in Wednesday’s edition.

In April, New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist Jeff Duncan said the 2018 Super Bowl was “ours to lose.”

“My initial thought was, ‘Good luck, Indy. You’ll need it,'” Duncan said about Indianapolis’ 2018 bid. “That Super Bowl is ours. … The competition would be wise to step aside and allow the Crescent City to bid unchallenged.”

The New Orleans media is merely echoing the confidence oozing from their local officials.

“I think we have about as good a chance as we’ve ever had to get it,” Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation President and CEO Jay Cicero said Tuesday. “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.”

Notice that Cicero doesn’t talk about losing the bid, just the size of the margin by which New Orleans wins.

No one is discounting New Orleans’ experience in hosting big events. And no one has forgotten that 2018 is the city’s tri-centennial. But saying the decision is a forgone conclusion is a bit premature. In addition to Indianapolis, Minneapolis, with a $975 million stadium set to open in 2016, also appears to be a serious contender.

Indeed, New Orleans seems to see itself as a cut above.

During the week of the Super Bowl in 2012, I did a story about what New Orleans, which hosted the 2013 Super Bowl, and New York, which will host the 2014 Super Bowl, might learn from the way Indianapolis hosted the game. After all, Indianapolis was the first city to incorporate a Super Bowl Village, a zip line, a social media command center and a number of other innovative features.

Officials from the cities that host the next two Super Bowls attend the current year’s Super Bowl to promote their city and watch, observe and learn from the current host.

Officials from New York, which will host its first Super Bowl, were effusive in their praise. They readily admitted—though Indianapolis and New York are vastly different—that they could take ideas from Indianapolis.

The New Orleans officials looked at me sideways. Cicero and his staffers were polite and professional, but quickly pointed out that no city had hosted more Super Bowls and that their city had even hosted a Super Bowl and a Final Four in the same year. They also listed a litany of other big events they’d hosted.

While they acknowledged Indianapolis was doing a nice job in 2012, I got the sense that they didn’t think there was much they could learn.

They did admit to liking Indianapolis’ friendliness and cleanliness.

“Your hospitality through the volunteers is the best I’ve ever seen,” said Mark Romig, New Orleans 2013 Super Bowl Host Committee public relations committee chairman. “It starts at the airport, and permeates through the whole city.”

“This is the cleanest city I’ve ever seen, especially for a big event,” Cicero told me in 2012. “So we’re looking at how city crews have worked during the event and in the late night and early morning hours to keep everything clean. We’re also looking at how they place their waste receptacles to encourage people to put trash where it belongs.”

It’s no wonder Cicero focused on cleanliness.  Earlier in the week leading up to the 2012 Super Bowl, former NFL player and broadcaster Boomer Esiason said, “Indianapolis is like New Orleans without the dirty.”

That had to take the shine off things for New Orleans.

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