Final Four, Billy Joel coming back to New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The city is announcing two big events that will bring tens of thousands of people here next year and in 2022.

After a 10-year hiatus, the NCAA Final Four college basketball playoffs will return to the Dome, and music legend Billy Joel is coming back for a rare encore.

The last time New Orleans held a Final Four, Anthony Davis was considered the best basketball player in the nation. The game has been held in the Dome five times.

"It looks like New Orleans is going to be back in the rotation for Final Four. I know a lot of people never thought we would be back," said Doug Thornton with the Superdome.

Unlike the Super Bowl or the Sugar Bowl, the Final Four is a championship series stretched over three days, filling the Dome and hotels. For the 2022 games, New Orleans was invited by the NCAA to submit a non-competitive bid.

"The NCAA committee sees the value of coming to New Orleans. It's one of the great destination cities, and it looks like we will get our chance again," Thornton said.

Like the Super Bowl, Final Fours are often attracted to new arenas, and construction is slowing down.

"There were just many other stadiums that were built that could host a Final Four, and those stadiums got their turn," Thornton said.

Also Thursday, producers for Billy Joel announced New Orleans would be one of just five tour stops he will make next year. Joel is scheduled to appear in concert at the Smoothie King Arena on Feb. 10.

"New Orleans itself is attractive to him, but to illustrate the regional draw of it was a slam dunk for him," said Russell Doussan with Live Nation promoters.

Joel will appear in New Orleans just days before another major event - next year's NBA All Star game.

"Being on a Friday night, before the All Star game offers a national draw," said Doussan.

Big concerts are becoming a larger and larger part of the city's tourism mix for a variety of reasons.

"It's their sole source of income. They used to tour to sell records, now they tour because it's their only source of income," said Doussan, tlking about the artists.

Producers said that's because CD sales are way down.  That means more shows for New Orleans, and more tourism, since so many people come from out of town for big shows.

"Beyonce did 46,000 paid tickets, and they came from over three states in a 300-mile radius," Doussan said.

And that economic punch is music to the ears of the tourist industry.

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