New Orleans—The sidelining of Saints Head Coach Sean Payton for a year has many fans furious at the NFL. But city leaders and Superdome executives say the "bounty-gate" scandal will not impact ongoing plans for a successful Super Bowl in New Orleans next year.
Many fans are seething over the impact the penalties could have on the team for the upcoming season. They fear the loss of Payton will dilute the team's chances of landing in a Super Bowl which will be played on the home turf.
"I think the Saints are being railroaded," lamented one fan.
But Mayor Mitch Landrieu and people involved in the local planning for the Super Bowl said Thursday that despite the frustration this city will rise to the occasion to host the big game next year.
"I don't think it's going to dampen the spirit for the Super Bowl," Landrieu stated.
He said the city gets repeated Super Bowls for a reason.
"I think the Super Bowl is going to be one of the best that we've conducted and I just think we ought to look forward and get on about the business. I like saying in my neighborhood you just take your licks and you move on," Landrieu continued.
Superdome and SMG Executive Doug Thornton is playing a pivotal role in the planning and said the Saints' troubles will not adversely affect planning for the Super Bowl.
"We've got NFL representatives coming in and out of the city on a regular basis right now to work with us. I don't think it'll have an impact whatsoever," Thornton said.
Landrieu conceded that the penalties the Saints franchise faces are painful, but he is not ready to write off the home team for the new season.
"We've got a great team still in play, and I think the best way for the Saints to redeem themselves and to redeem this city is to get back out there, and shake this thing off," he said.
Whether or not the Saints end up in the Super Bowl the scandal could be a big part of the media coverage as media outlets from around the globe converge on New Orleans to cover the big game.
"Certainly the media is going to write what they're going to write, they're going to say what they're going to say, every body's got an opinion about it, look no one's happy about it, but it is what it is," Thornton said.
He said none of that should be a negative reflection on the city, or the stadium.
"You can't drown this city no matter what happens," Landrieu stated.
And they said the city's one of a kind hospitality will be just that for the Super Bowl.
"The people of New Orleans know exactly what's expected of them and have absolutely no doubt that they're going to be the most gracious and wonderful hosts like we've always been," said Landrieu.
Landrieu said the key is for fans to look to the future.
"The big message for the city of New Orleans is to get up off your knees, and let's keep going forward."