Tomorrow's Sugar Bowl means more than just victory for Virginia Tech or Michigan. It also generates huge economic development opportunities for the entire New Orleans region.
Greater New Orleans, Inc. President Michael Hecht says the Sugar Bowl and other upcoming sports events are expected to add $400 million to the local economy.
"Everybody, you know, thinks about the $400 million that's going to be spent right up front. But from my perspective, I would actually even forgo that immediate impact if I knew there was going to be as significant of a long-term brand impact. As, for example, we saw from the Saints' run on the Super Bowl. That, long term, is incredibly important and money, even if we could afford it, couldn't buy it."
Hecht says the city has an opportunity to present itself as capable of producing major events, and in a culturally enticing atmosphere. He's most concerned about the city making a good impression on business leaders in the audience.
"That's actually incredibly important when we're trying to sell individuals, not only on the business case for moving their business to New Orleans, but also the lifestyle case. So, from an economic development perspective, we think actually the long-term brand impact of these events is as important if not more important than the immediate benefit of the hundreds of millions of dollars that's spent."
Hecht says at least 160,000 visitors are expected for the upcoming major sporting events. And then there's Mardi Gras.