Why the Super Bowl should NOT be in New Orleans permanently
Big economic impact, lots of fun, worldwide spotlight - all good things, right?
But then I really got to thinking - under what circumstances would that really happen?
Then, it wasn't such a good idea. And I hope it never happens.
The column, by Ann Killion of the San Jose Mercury News entitled "Super Bowl belongs in New Orleans, not Miami", contends that the roughly $400 million of economic benefit that Miami will get this week should instead go to a place that needs it more than ever.
I applaud that consideration.
She goes a step further, remembering fondly that New Orleans is a "superb good-time host, throwing memorable parties before great games." And, she points out, "The NFL is already one of the few positive forces in post-Katrina New Orleans."
So, she writes, the city should become the Super Bowl's permanent host.
So why am I against this?
Because it would mean that the Saints would have to leave New Orleans to make it happen.
Follow me here. NFL owners would never go for a plan that keeps the Super Bowl permanently in a city that also plays host to one of the league's franchises. It would create a potentially permanent championship home-field advantage that no other team would be able to counter. And, it would be a difficult sell to other communities that have footed the bill for big, expensive stadiums with the potential for hosting the biggest party of all.
Plus, if the NFL did allow the Saints to leave New Orleans but offered the city the Super Bowl every year as a carrot to accept the loss of its beloved black and gold, how much love do you think the city would show the NFL?
I'm thinking, not very much.
The Saints really mean something to a lot of people here, and they are a beacon of hope and inspiration in a place that needs it. This is evidenced by the hugs shared and tears shed when the team won its second playoff game ever this past season. And the hundreds of people who, after it had lost the NFC championship in Chicago, braved the rain and welcomed the team back with a road-lined celebration at 2 a.m. The team's flight had been delayed, but the party went on.
(As an aside, I read somewhere that all of THREE Bears fans were present at the airport to send the Bears off to Miami. Trust me, had the Saints beaten the Bears, the road to Louis Armstrong Airport would have been packed like a big Mardi Gras parade - both to send the team off, and to welcome them back.)
If the Saints do leave, New Orleans, as well as much of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, would become apathetic about the NFL.
And, if the league dangled the Super Bowl in exchange for losing the Saints, the city would be expected to show a level of artificial excitement for a championship game of a league that allowed part of its fabric to be ripped away.
It would be a hollow party every single year, and the local media would trumpet this fact annually.
Which is why it wouldn't work. And it shouldn't be an option in the first place.
The Saints belong in New Orleans.
The city deserves a fair chance to rebuild and recapture its glory. Perhaps it should host a Super Bowl for the next available slot, in 2011.
Because nobody throws a great football party like New Orleans.
But only if the Saints are still here.
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