NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - After coming in second last year, New Orleans tourism leaders are preparing to once again to make their best pitch for a record 11th Super Bowl.
Mobile users click here to see the slideshow: http://shout.lt/36Zz
But just like last year, they are facing some shiny, new challengers in a stadium competition that some compare to an arms race.
At 40 years old, there's no other stadium that has hosted more Super Bowls than the Mercedes Benz Superdome, and after just landing an invitation to bid on a record 11th NFL championship, there's optimism.
"We're excited about it, and it gives us an opportunity to once again showcase New Orleans," said Doug Thornton, the regional vice president of SMG, the company that manages the Dome.
Many felt good about the city's chances last year. But New Orleans came in second in the bidding for the 2018 game, which would have been played against the backdrop of the city's 300th anniversary festivities. Instead it went to Minneapolis, which had a new stadium.
"What's different is we are now moving forward with some of the improvements that we suggested we would make if we had won the 2018 bid," Thornton said.
About $40 million is now being spent on new scoreboards, HD equipment and concession stands.
"Our chances will be good, it will be competitive," Thornton said.
The competition will be especially stiff from Atlanta, where a new stadium is now under construction.
"Certainly Atlanta is building a new stadium. Everyone saw what happened with Minnesota. We will take note of that - that's an obvious dynamic that we have to deal with," Thornton said.
While Atlanta is getting an entirely new stadium, New Orleans and the Superdome will be challenged by a major renovation in Miami, where nearly $400 million is being spent on renovations that will include a massive new canopy.
"In all likelihood, Atlanta will be very favorable, and it will boil down to Tampa, Miami and New Orleans, and New Orleans can compete against those other two cities," said Superdome General Manager Alan Freeman.
Hosting a Super Bowl is always a challenge.
"Hosting one of these mega events is more and more expensive - well over ten million dollars," Freeman said.
But a bill to help fund the effort is now progressing through the Legislature, giving officials who were spurned last year a boost in confidence.
"It continues to be in the top tier of the facilities out there," Thornton said. "It's not new, it's 40, but we continue to keep pace."
Whether keeping pace is good enough remains to be seen.
There's a lot at stake. UNO says the economic impact of a Super Bowl is nearly a half-billion dollars. The NFL site selectors are expected to make their decision in early summer of next year.