News that New Orleans will host the Super Bowl in 2013 set the hearts of local football fans aflutter with the possibility that the Saints might finally be in that number, and at home no less.

But while the Saints’ own chances of such success three seasons from now are impossible to gauge, the decision by the NFL to hold its premier event here is already being touted by some local leaders as an endorsement of the city’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina and a validation of its ability to host other world-class events.

“The biggest impact is that it takes us to a new level of confidence when we go after other big events,” says Sam Joffray, vice president of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, which organizes sporting events in the area.

“These other organizations look at us differently now because this says New Orleans is back in the biggest possible way for sports,” he says. “There’s new momentum and new confidence as we go after another NBA All-Star game or Olympics trials or anything else we try to bring here.”

In May, Saints owner Tom Benson, officials from the sports foundation and other local leaders succeeded in petitioning the collected NFL team owners to hold Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. The economic impact of hosting the game is estimated at more than $300 million, which doesn’t count the enormous amount of media coverage typically generated for the host city during the build-up to the event.

The majority of the sports foundation’s staff is still on board from 2002, the last time the city hosted a Super Bowl, so Joffray says the group has strong institutional knowledge about handling the event. The sports foundation is now forming a host committee of local business and civic leaders to spearhead the city’s efforts leading up to the game. Representatives from New Orleans will be at next year’s Super Bowl in Miami, and they will travel to the game in Dallas in ’11 and in Indianapolis in ’12 to see how other cities manage the experience.

Super Bowl XLVII will mark the 10th NFL championship hosted by New Orleans, which would tie the city with south Florida as the most popular site.
“We had a long break with both Katrina and the uncertainty surrounding the Saints for a while there,” says Joffray. “But now we hope to make this business as usual and get New Orleans back on the rotation to have a Super Bowl every few years.”