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Gazzolo: The real winner Sunday night was New Orleans

Last Modified: Monday, February 04, 2013 10:07 PM

By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

Let’s face facts, this was not the first time somebody in New Orleans suffered a blackout.

On the French Quarter it is more than a nightly happening.

However, this one took center stage.

Maybe it was Beyonce’s halftime performance that sapped all the power out of the Superdome.

It doesn’t matter. To the rest of the world, it was another black eye for New Orleans.

But like with Katrina and the Bounty Gate mess, it is just another thing for the city to overcome.

It did, however, put a damper on what was otherwise a perfect show put on by the Big Easy. It is not likely to hurt any chance of the game coming back to town.

“The most important thing is that people understand this was a fantastic week here,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday. “This will not affect the view of the NFL about the success of the game here in New Orleans.

“We know they have an interest in future Super Bowls and we look forward to evaluating that. This will not have any effect at all. What I think is that this will be remembered as one of the great Super Bowl weeks and I fully expect we will be back here for future Super Bowls. We want to be back.”

For the people of New Orleans, Sunday’s final score didn’t matter. The winning team, relatively meaningless, unless you put next month’s mortgage on such things.

The real winner of Sunday’s Super Bowl was the city and the people who call it home, despite plunging a portion of the NFL into darkness for some 34 minutes.

The 47th edition of pro football’s ultimate game was perhaps the biggest in the history of this town.

Sure, you can argue that the one the Saints actually captured themselves was the biggest, helping to raise the Big Easy out of the funk that was Katrina.

And while that was a feel-good story, as the Saints finally gave New Orleans a winner, it was Sunday’s contest that will mean much more in the long run.

The economic boost from the Saints was just a blip on the radar screen compared to the last two weeks hosting the game has meant.

Hotels were filled, restaurants had waiting lines and bars overflowed onto streets even more than usual.

Sunday’s game closed out a year of resurrection for the city that was left for dead when Katrina filled its neighborhoods with water and threaten to kill the life out of New Orleans for good.

Some said the town would never recover.

And, even if you count that lighting issue, which has happened in other stadiums but not at such an important time, the town has come back to life.

Those of us who have been there in recent years know this. But, it was important to put a signature moment on such comebacks. Sunday was that moment and even gave people something to remember the game by.

In the past year, New Orleans has hosted college basketball’s Final Four, a BCS championship game and then finally the big financial bonanza that is the Super Bowl.

As money flowed through town like the liquor flowed through fans, and forgotten for at least a few days were the sights of a city underwater, where residents clung to their rooftops just to stay alive.

Gone were memories of the house of horrors that was the Superdome days after the storm. Instead, the old building has that new look as lights showed off its facelift.

And to many who take great pride in the Crescent City, the old dome never looked better, though they probably never tried to cover the game from the remodeled press box, which is less than perfect.

All this until the building became a punch line.

Still, the week was a success because of one thing, no town knows how to throw a party quite like New Orleans. And from the moment fans set foot into the city’s limits, the party was on.

Truth is, there is no better place for a Super Bowl to be held then New Orleans, lights or no lights. In fact, the city gets even crazier after dark.

When you come to the Super Bowl in New Orleans, you are not as much a fan but a participant.

No place in America is better suited for football’s gala event, or any gala event for that matter — power on or off.

You may not want to live there, but you sure don’t mind hanging out in the city for at least a little while.

But the NFL had not been back since 2002. Clearly, some of that had to do with Katrina. The league had to take a long, hard look at what was really going on in New Orleans before it could return its showcase event for the 10th time to the city.

That is to be expected. You can’t hold a party when the house has already burned down.

But rebuild the city, show it is back and the NFL will return.

That’s what made this game so important. The NFL likes New Orleans, wants to come back but had to find out the city was ready.

Well, the city proved it was not only ready but more than able to host the event. Just give us some time to get a little more power into the Superdome and we will be just fine.

Now, you can expect New Orleans to be back in the rotation, getting its share of games with the likes of Miami and others.

It seems fitting now. In fact, it feels right.

No city needed this game more than New Orleans and none could have put on a better show.

You may not be able to claim to have the best pro football team in America but winning back the hearts, and more importantly the wallets, of the NFL is far beneficial in the long run.

Next time, we promise to have paid the electric bill.

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Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at

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