The remnants of the 2014 All Star weekend are still in the process of disappearing from New Orleans’ streets: the banners touting the game, the larger-than-life players adorning sides of downtown buildings, the billboards welcoming fans to the city.
Restaurants and bars have just finished re-stocking supplies after the marathon of private parties and walk-in diners that packed into downtown for the festivities. New Orleans hosted an estimated 50,000 guests, who generated an approximate economic impact of $90 million.
"I’m a little tired," admitted Dennis Lauscha, president of the both the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans. "I think we all are kind of still in All-Star daze, but you know, it was so much fun. It was a great time. The city really looked so great, and I heard time and time again, everyone saying ‘Man, you guys have done so much for New Orleans, the fans are really turning out, it’s a great experience.’ The Jam Session was outstanding, and obviously the hospitality of all the folks here in Louisiana really showed through as it always does."
Lauscha, the Benson family (owners of the Saints and Pelicans), the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation and the Crescent City as a whole are certainly no strangers to throwing a fabulous party.
The city has played host to dozens of high profile sporting events including the Super Bowl, not to mention Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest and French Quarter Fest, just to name a few. Lauscha says his team drew on that experience to produce a dazzling NBA All Star Weekend.
"What we did this year, we tried to learn what we could from the Super Bowl and actually increase what we’ve done in the past," Lauscha said. "We had a lot more parties and a lot more hospitality, a lot more opportunities for people to see New Orleans."
Locals may still be mentally recovering from the frenzy. Dwight Howard and John Wall’s 6-story images may still be peering down on commuters driving downtown, but Lauscha says the city is ready to go again as soon as the NBA allows, possibly as soon as 2018.
"We talked to the commissioner about it," Lauscha said. "The commissioner is very open to wanting to have the game back here in New Orleans, maybe in 2018. I talked to all the leadership at the NBA, and they’re all anxious to get back here in New Orleans. It was a very good experience. We’re real excited, we can’t wait to have them back."
New York and Toronto are already slated to host the 2015 and 2016 All Star Weekends, but Lauscha is lobbying hard to get the big weekend back in the Big Easy as soon as possible.
That could be an experience like no other for even the Crescent City: New Orleans is a finalist in the bidding for the 2018 Super Bowl, along with Indianapolis and Minneapolis. The city will also be celebrating it’s Tri-centennial anniversary, with year-round events commemorating the day in 1718 when Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville founded a settlement called La Nouvelle Orleans.
If any city can handle a year-round party highlighted by both of the NFL and NBA’s premiere events, it’s New Orleans.
What better way actually to say "Happy 300th Anniversary?"