NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - New Orleans joins Miami as the most frequent host of the Super Bowl when it stages its 10th NFL title game on Sunday, but Mayor Mitch Landrieu said the city was already the big winner.
“We are aiming for a perfect 10,” Landrieu told a media conference on Monday in an official welcome to Super Bowl XLVII between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens.
“(But) the story is much, much bigger than the Super Bowl ... This is a story about the resurrection and redemption of a great American city. A short time ago this city was 15 feet under water.”
Hurricane Katrina, which pounded New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005, caused more than 1,800 deaths and billions of dollars in property damage.
“People picked themselves up and dried themselves off and started taking one step at a time to start rebuilding not only their lives but their community,” said Landrieu.
Officials have estimated the economic impact of the Super Bowl on New Orleans at $434 million, outstripping a projected $238 million for the annual Mardi Gras festival the following week.
Apart from a $350 million renovation of the airport, officials have lavished $300 million to fix up the Superdome, and $95 million to improve the convention center that will be used by a record 5,205 media representatives this week.
“We don’t have to create anything in New Orleans. It’s here,” said James Carville, a co-chair of the Super Bowl host committee with his wife Marry Matalin.
“It’s been here for 294 years. We just have to take what we have, shine it up a little bit, add a little something here and there. Two hundred and 94 years of history and culture stand on its own.”
Editing by Ian Ransom