As the Kansas Jayhawks and Kentucky Wildcats prepare for tonight’s NCAA Championship, New Orleans officials are already celebrating. The city is making the most of the national spotlight, and the money it brings.
No matter which team takes the title tonight, New Orleans is estimating the Final Four means millions — about $77 million in spending on basketball tickets and hotels, and another $57 million on shopping and dining.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu marked the weekend events by combining the Final Four with city projects involving corporate and nonprofit funds. He thanked Nike and the Drew Brees Foundation for helping restore the gym at Joe Brown Park in New Orleans East.
“We’re on Victory Court right now. We dedicated Victory Field a couple of months ago, and then we’re, of course, doing the track across the street.”
Before shooting hoops with the mayor and some youngsters at the gym, the Saints quarterback says the foundation looks for programs that combine sports with helping children.
“Twenty-three-million-dollar renovation, that’s significant, especially for New Orleans East, and just the opportunities it’s going to provide for so many people," Brees said. "So it’s truly an honor to be here. It’s an honor to be part of this project, and we’re really excited to watch it develop.”
City business is directly affected by tonight’s game. City Hall is closing at 3 p.m. as crowds gather at the Superdome. Traffic is restricted around the Convention Center where special events are set for this afternoon.