Failed bid for Super Bowl a surprise to local leaders

Advocate staff photo by Scott Threlkeld -- Fans trudge up a Poydras Street ramp before the New Orleans Saints play the Oakland Raiders in pre-season game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Friday, August 16, 2013.
Advocate staff photo by Scott Threlkeld -- Fans trudge up a Poydras Street ramp before the New Orleans Saints play the Oakland Raiders in pre-season game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Friday, August 16, 2013.

Steve Trotter, the regional vice president of Centerplate in New Orleans, was on the golf course Tuesday afternoon when he received the news via group text message: No Super Bowl in 2018.

Asked later to describe his initial reaction, Trotter, his voice as deep as it is proud of the Crescent City, playfully responded, “What do you think?”

Nearby, from the clubhouse at Lakewood Golf Club, Gia Sausse of Bull’s Eye Media watched ESPN’s live broadcast of the NFL announcement. That’s when Commissioner Roger Goodell’s words gave her a “sinking feeling,” as the league opted for Minneapolis’ February icicles over New Orleans crawfish, which would also be in season.

“Take a deep breath, move on and what’s next?” Sausse said, attempting to reconcile with the announcement she and many others didn’t expect.

A UNO study estimated that Super Bowl XLVII had an economic impact of $480 million for New Orleans.

The NFL’s move dents New Orleans’ self-bestowed reputation as the best city to host the NFL’s annual big game. New Orleans has hosted the Super Bowl 10 times, including two seasons ago.

The Super Bowl, held annually in February, offers more than one week of major events, including the NFL Experience.

These events are held during a month that is considered part of New Orleans’ tourist offseason, giving a surge of revenue to local companies, including catering, transportation, temporary staffing and merchandising.

Landing a Super Bowl affects hourly workers in the hospitality industry, many of whom log hours on an as-needed basis. For them, no Super Bowl means no extra paycheck.

While the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation sent a group to Atlanta for the announcement, others in its staff and membership spent Tuesday at the organization’s annual golf tournament, which thanks to the news, soured the snowballs.

After all, many said, New Orleans has the food.

And weather. The hotel rooms. The crawfish.

An iconic (older) football facility in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Not to mention 2018 is the city’s tricentennial celebration.

Did we mention crawfish?

“It’s always disappointing when you don’t get a major event like that,” said Callen Hotard, CEO of Hotard Coaches.

“But listen, New Orleans is bustling so much right now, and there’s so much positive going on right now, the fact that we didn’t get this Super Bowl in 2018 is not going to diminish the positives and the amount of tourists that are bombarding the city.”

Not that this is all about business.

“I’m happy for Minnesota,” Trotter said. “It’s... congratulations to them. But at the same time, a little hometown pride, we feel that we should have got it.”

There is, Sausse concluded, good news for New Orleans:

“There’s always another party around the corner.”