The New Orleans Saints will face off against the Seattle Seahawks this Saturday, but the matchup isn't just on the football field.
Fans of both teams are squaring off to express their football fever, from the Seattle #Hawkitecture contest to the Whitney clock in the CBD that chimes "When The Saints Go Marching In". New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray are placing a bet on the game's outcome. Even the Port of New Orleans is getting in the wagering game.
So, who has the coolest hometown? We teamed up with Seattle Public Radio station KPLU to consider the facts:
Pike Place vs. French Market —Edge: Seattle
NOLA: The New Orleans French Market is America’s oldest public market, and has existed on the same site since 1791.
“Whoever controls New Orleans controls the entire Mississippi River,” Thomas Jefferson is said to have remarked.
Seattle: Seattle’s Pike Place Market has throaty fishmongers who throw around slippery salmon with the greatest of ease, as well as a resident monkfish that keeps visitors in check.
And the 108-year-old market is said to be haunted by ghosts of sailors and merchants past.
Bonus: the waterfront market lends killer views of the sunset during the dry months.
Seahawk vs. Sir Saint/Gumbo — Definitely Seattle
NOLA: Saints owner Tom Benson just doesn’t have a knack for mascots. Is there a reason Gumbo the goofy Saints dog is, well, a big goofy Saints dog? What does he have to do with football? Are there bits of dog in the Superdome gumbo?? Oh, he’s a “Saint” Bernard.
Sir Saint is another creepy 70s-era holdover from former owner John Mecom. Apparently, Sir Saint was “retired” and then brought back — decades later — because there’s nothing that says “New Orleans” more than a guy with a giant foam chin who just stands around.
See also: Pierre the Pelican, a.k.a. Nightmare Fuel, the Murder Chicken, etc.
Seattle: Blitz, the Seahawk, is the kind of mascot that makes your town feel large. The friendly-faced bird is “built like a bodybuilder,” as Wikipedia puts it, and has the sort of naturally-prominent eyebrows that make you want to trust him.
Since he debuted in 1998, Blitz has been busy rallying the 12th Man, growing his own Facebook page and touring the country with other mascots to raise money for muscular dystrophy.
Coffee vs. Coffee — Seattle
NOLA: New Orleans has a storied coffee culture rooted in the city’s long history as one of the most important ports in the Western Hemisphere, and the American port most closely tied to South America. Banana Republics were made and lost from New Orleans boardrooms, and the transshipment and roasting of coffee remains one of the major anchors of the port today.
Seattle: Seattle is home to Starbucks Coffee, and that’s just the tip of the foam on your latte. The city also has dozens of independent coffee roasters (a few that even deliver by bike!) that keep the locals caffeinated — and warm during the rainy months.
Music — Definitely NOLA
NOLA: Disaffected people complaining about the rain are the Pacific Northwest’s gift to American music. Compare that to NOLA: the birthplace of jazz, the original American music that rock n’ roll is based on (or rips off explicitly); the city’s continuing centrality to the national hip-hop scene; and the integration of music THAT YOU CAN DANCE TO into every facet of life in the Crescent City, and you have a clear winner.
Seattle: Once the center of grunge, Seattle has been home to Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain, as well as bands Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. It touts a number of beloved music venues and the Experience Music Project, where visitors can explore the history of popular music.
These days, Seattle’s collar-popping native son, Macklemore, is doing the city proud (and also teaching us how to dress better on a budget).
Technology vs. Hollywood South — Edge: NOLA
NOLA: Seattle may have Microsoft, but NOLA is a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity, especially in the digital media and film realms. The latter so much so that Louisiana has been bestowed with the moniker of Hollywood South — the state has been drawing large and small productions thanks to tax credits and investments in people and film infrastructure.
It isn’t only the producers who love NOLA — Hollywood stars do, too; where else can a megastar enjoy herself without being hounded by paparazzi and curious locals?
Seattle: With both Microsoft and Amazon headquartered in the area, Seattle is a magnet for talent in the tech industry. Last year, the city ranked first in the U.S. in new jobs and second for wage growth, thanks, in part, to its strong tech pulse.
And the numerous startups in the city constantly challenge local residents to think creatively and try new ideas.
Yes, we’re nerdy and we’re proud of it.
Pot vs. Partying — NOLA
NOLA: Recreational marijuana may now be legal in Seattle, but pretty much everything else is legal in Louisiana. New Orleanians pride themselves on having a good time, and celebrate the good, the bad, and the indifferent. We celebrate life, rather than mourn death. Why stay at home, stoned, when you can get a drive-thru daiquiri and yuck it up — at a football game, or at a funeral.
Seattle: Pot is now legal in Seattle, where pot stores are expected to open later this year.
And city leaders are already preparing for the anticipated marijuana tourists. Seattle’s city attorney, for one, wants to ease the ban on public pot smoking to accommodate tourists.
NOLA: Remember, Saints fans: Seattleites can holler themselves hoarse, and jump up and down all they like, but at the end of the day, they have to live there while we get to live here. There’s power in that Popeyes, and New York is just a few weeks away.
Seattle: The power of the 12th Man in Seattle is so strong that even Seattle Central Library plans to show the game. (If things get loud, don't call security, says city librarian Marcellus Turner.)
And things are about to get seriously rowdy at the Clink. University of Washington researchers have even installed a seismometer to see just how rowdy we get.
Best buckle up, Saints.