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New Orleans plans to spiff up as host of next year’s Super Bowl

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans hosts its 11th Super Bowl next year and the preparations involve showcasing the city’s heralded architecture, music, food and celebratory culture while addressing its myriad challenges, including crime, pockets of homelessness and an antiquated drainage system.

Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry joined Mayor LaToya Cantrell and a host of other city and state officials on Tuesday at a downtown theater for a news conference to discuss the process, kicking off what the Democratic mayor declared “the Summer of Super Bowl.” Landry, a Republican elected last year with a strong anti-crime message, vowed that the city will be one of the nation’s safest by game day.

Road and drainage improvements and the use of state police to help the New Orleans Police Department combat crime are among the efforts.

Michael Hecht, the president of a local economic development nonprofit who was recently tapped to coordinate local Super Bowl preparations, listed scores of infrastructure projects planned or under way. They include street and sidewalk repairs, lighting improvements and repairs to the aging system of stormwater street drains and pumps that are under constant strain to prevent flash floods.

He also noted efforts by the city and local advocates to close down and clean up homeless encampments and provide safter housing for those in need.

Only Miami has hosted more Super Bowls than New Orleans — the two cities will be tied at 11 each once the 59th game is played in February. But it’s been almost 12 years since New Orleans hosted and local officials are eager to show the city off again.

Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser noted international media would fill much of the city’s huge convention center on the Mississippi River in the week before the game. “We want to make sure we pump some of that great Louisiana food into the convention center and treat them like nowhere else,” he said.

Landry and members of his cabinet highlighted the opportunity the game will give the state to show off its vital role as a Mississippi River port and to boost economic development efforts.

There was also an opportunity to address a moment that marred the big game the last time it was hosted in the Superdome.

Less than two minutes into the third quarter of the 2013 Super Bowl, a partial blackout within the dome delayed the game between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers for 34 minutes.

Marcus Brown, an executive vice president at Entergy, the company that supplies power to the dome, delivered assurances that that won’t happen again.

“We’ve had multiple significant events in the dome to prove and establish that we have the equipment and the redundancies in place to make sure the dome puts this game on without a hitch,” Brown said.

By KEVIN McGILL
Associated Press

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