Once considered the people’s choice to host the Super Bowl — the Powerball of sporting events — storm-ravaged New Orleans now faces mounting odds against ever again landing pro-football’s championship game.
New Orleans had lost its drawing power among National Football League owners long before the catastrophic flooding that followed last summer’s Hurricane Katrina. The city last staged its league-high ninth Super Bowl in February 2002. With games awarded through 2010, the earliest New Orleans could land a Super Bowl is 2011.
Even that time frame seems unlikely in light of the massive and costly rebuilding job the city faces.
Dallas and Indianapolis are poised to make bids in May on the 2011 game, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.
NFL owners will hold their fall meetings Monday and Tuesday in New Orleans, and while the Super Bowl location isn’t on the agenda, it’s a hot topic for city leaders who want to put New Orleans back in the rotation.
“We’ve got challenges, there’s no doubt about it,” said Doug Thornton, regional vice-president for SMG which operates the Superdome. “We’ve got a two- or three-year window to make our case to the NFL. And there are still some long-term economic and stadium issues that have to be resolved.
“When the time is right, I think the NFL will support us with a future game. I think they want to do it. I believe they would love to help the city and they want to come back here. But the conditions are going to have to be right.”
Why does the city of New Orleans want to get back into the rotation? Because of the economic impact hosting the game would provide. Last February’s game in Detroit, Super Bowl XL, generated a total economic impact of $261 million, according to a study commissioned by Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau.
It’s also a hot commodity for the advertising business. According to superbowl.com, the 10 most-watched programs in TV history are all Super Bowls. Last year’s game was watched by 141.4 million viewers.
The Bears’ march to Super Bowl XLI
For an Oct. 13 column headlined “A high five: Can’t bear being without ‘em,’’ the Sun-Times’ Mike Mulligan polled the Bears’ locker room and came up with a list of the five players the team could least afford to lose.One of the “Indispensable Five’’ was safety Mike Brown, who might be out for the season with a foot injury. As Mulligan wrote, “Brown’s a sure tackler, a coach-on-the-field type who lines up the secondary and a guy who can make big, game-changing plays. He’s also the most inspiring natural leader in the locker room.’’
The other players on the list: Brian Urlacher, Rex Grossman, Olin Kreutz and John Tait.
ON THIS DAY
On Oct. 19, 1986, the reigning Super Bowl champion Bears cruised into Minnesota with the same record (6-0) as this season’s team. They left the Metrodome with a 23-7 loss. The Bears, missing injured QB Jim McMahon, crossed midfield only once in the first three quarters and finished with a season-low 190 yards. “They took it to us and they shoved it down our throats,’’ coach Mike Ditka said.
The Vikings’ defense sacked substitute starter Steve Fuller seven times — one more than the Bears had allowed in their previous six games combined.
‘’No question they are hurt without McMahon,’’ Vikings coach Jerry Burns said. ‘’Steve Fuller doesn’t have the ability to move around like McMahon.’’
‘’It isn’t the end of the world,’’ Bears defensive end Richard Dent said. ‘’We won’t panic. Other people will. But we won’t.’’
vs. San Francisco 49ers, noon, Oct. 29, Fox-32, 780-AM
108 Days until Super Bowl XLI on Feb. 4, 2007, at Dolphin Stadium in Miami.