New Orleans aims for Super celebration in tricentennial of 2018

NEW ORLEANS — LII plus CCC would equal a rollicking good time in New Orleans come February 2018, regardless of how anyone does the arithmetic.

But there is much work to be done before the Big Easy can successfully land Super Bowl LII during the city’s yearlong tricentennial celebration, said key members of past New Orleans Super Bowl host committees.

With Tuesday’s awarding of Super Bowls L and LI to the San Francisco Bay Area and Houston in 2016 and 2017, New Orleans and other potential host cities can shift their attention to the bid process for Super Bowl LII.

“The first step is to be invited to bid on the game,’’ said Jay Cicero, the preordained executive director of the 2018 New Orleans Super Bowl Host Committee and president/CEO of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation. “We laid our groundwork for that step with NFL owners at (Super Bowl XLVII) here in February. Hopefully we were convincing.

“With (Mayor Mitch Landrieu) as our lead voice, we made the owners and everyone in the media very aware that 2018 was our target year because of the tricentennial in the city. I think we’re in a position to be invited. And if we are, we will put together a very competitive bid. That said, it’ll be very interesting to see who else is invited to bid.’’

Indianapolis and Tampa, Fla., also are expected to bid. South Florida came away empty-handed Tuesday primarily because of unresolved stadium issues. Officials there have been unable to secure public funding for upgrades to Sun Life Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins.

It probably is premature to throw Atlanta and Minneapolis in the mix. Each has yet to break ground on new downtown stadiums, although the Falcons are hoping to be in their new state-of-the-art home for the 2017 season. The NFL requires at least one season to be played in the new building before hosting the Super Bowl, so that likely leaves New Orleans, Indianapolis and Tampa at the forefront.

The NFL extends formal bid invitations in October. Presentations will be made at the May owners’ meetings in 2014, and the game will be awarded on the same day.

Let the handicapping begin.

“I don’t want to speculate on Atlanta or Miami,’’ said Doug Thornton, a key member of past New Orleans host committees and the senior vice president of SMG, which manages the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and New Orleans Arena. “But we’re in a position to have our bid finalized by October, whereas some other cities may not be in that position for the 2018 consideration.

“We just hosted a Super Bowl. We understand the economics involved. We can work quickly to develop and finalize our bid based on the requirement of the NFL, which may change and evolve as they go forward. I’m not saying Atlanta or Miami won’t be ready, but they have some stuff to do in order to be considered by October.”

There is the matter of the 34-minute power outage at the Superdome during the third quarter of Super Bowl XLVII between Baltimore and San Francisco. That untimely delay on the worldwide stage caused a great deal of angst for NFL officials and the host committee, and it provided plenty of fodder for critics.

Cicero said the electrical problem has been corrected and everything will be done to make sure it won’t happen again.

“Frankly, I didn’t even think about it until you mentioned it,’’ he said with a laugh. “I think everybody has it in perspective. You look back on it now, and it was a relatively innocuous incident.

“I think the Superdome and Entergy did a remarkable job for it only to last 34 minutes. They had to identify what happened, come up with a solution, execute that solution and then it takes about 15 to 20 minutes for the lights to come on. If you really put it in perspective, no one was injured. Players sat on the field the entire time, relaxed, enjoyed music, stretched. The fans sang songs, did the wave, texted each other, got a beer. It was really nothing more than a 34-minute delay, and nothing really came of it.’’