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saintz08 04-13-2004 09:33 AM



New Orleans' history as a successful host for major sporting events counts less these days as organizers look to commit to state-of-the-art facilities

Monday April 12, 2004

By Ted Lewis
Staff writer

In a dazzling 26-month period New Orleans has hosted the Super Bowl, the men's Final Four, the Bowl Championship Series national championship game and the women's Final Four.

So what's next?

Actually, not much.

The Nokia Sugar Bowl's spot as the title game in the next BCS rotation isn't set, but it most likely will be after the 2007 season.

An NCAA men's regional, to be played at New Orleans Arena, is pretty much assured for 2008.

But no future Super Bowls or Final Fours are scheduled for New Orleans. That doesn't mean they won't be coming, but it's not as automatic as in the past.

"These mega-events come in cycles," said Jay Cicero, executive director of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation. "You can't have them every year. But we're not just sitting idle in the meantime."

Good thing.

As more cities build or plan new stadiums that can house Super Bowls and Final Fours, the competition for these events becomes more intense.

So intense that New Orleans' history as a successful host (nine Super Bowls, four Final Fours) counts for less these days, although many consider it vital to the city's economy and image.

Just how vital could be put to the test soon.

It appears that unless the Saints and the state can come to an agreement that at least includes a modernization of the Superdome, the city's ability to continue to be a major player in landing prestigious sporting events will be in serious doubt.

"A deal has to be struck and soon," Cicero said. "If the deal is struck, we'll get the 2008 NBA All-Star Game, the 2009 Super Bowl, probably the 2012 Final Four and a women's Final Four sometime beyond 2011.

"Without a renovation -- and that means a deal with the Saints -- it's not going to happen."

WhoDat 04-13-2004 10:40 AM

This does not sound good.

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