Scott: The weeklong Super Bowl festivities in New Orleans are actually helping to kick their Mardi Gras celebration into high gear.
New Orleans citizen: It’s fun and crazy. As long as we can handle the crowds, that’s the only thing.
Scott: The city is hosting the big game for the 10th time. But it is the first time since the devastating hurricane that hit in 2005. Hurricane Katrina’s destructive winds and heavy rains flooded streets, and then some of the levees that surround the low-lying city gave way. Nearly 2,000 people died and 15 million were affected. The storm cost the city $148 billion.
But New Orleans is making a comeback. A tourism marketing organization says that hosting the Super Bowl lead to $1.3 billion in improvements to the city, from upgrading hotels to making over the airport.
The Superdome, which housed thousands of desperate evacuees seven years ago, got a $300 million facelift. And the city known worldwide for its restaurants is open and ready to serve the 10 million tourists expected this weekend.
There are dozens of new restaurants and old faves, like Galatoire’s in the French Quarter, have seen booming business this week.
David Gooch: We’re pretty much booked for the whole week.
Scott: The restaurant had to shut down for four months after Katrina hit. But reopening brought back people ready to spend more money.
David: The mindset of people in New Orleans after experiencing Katrina, they said, ‘you know, life is too short. Who knows what’s going to happen next. Let’s make the best of it!’
Scott: Mother’s Restaurant – that has been around for 75 years – has also been a popular stop leading up to the big game, including a visit from halftime performer Beyoncè and the entire Baltimore Ravens team.
One New Orleans tourism group predicts the three weeks of Super Bowl and Mardi Gras festivities, being called Super Gras, will be worth a whopping $730 million to The Big Easy.
Scott Evans, Channel One News.