NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Bayou Classic week is underway. It's the build-up to the 43rd Annual Bayou Classic game.
Tuesday city officials, along with the presidents and football coaches of Grambling and Southern universities, gathered on the field of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for a press conference heralding this weekend's big game and the myriad activities associated with it.
Both teams have won 21 times and the pressure is on to snare the tie-breaking victory this Saturday.
"It's one of the best events that we have all year and we're really thrilled. This is going to be a really exciting game, I mean, the public hasn't paid much attention to it, but it's 21 to 21, and as everybody knows, this is a really wonderful family event. We do these events better than anybody," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said.
The mayor said an estimated 250,000 people will be in the city for the game and the related events.
"This is one of the great traditions, and coaches, I think this is going to be a barn-burner," the mayor said.
The Downtown Development District said visitors will have even more retail options to choose from this year.
"I think the thing that really sets us apart from previous years is just the tremendous growth in the retail downtown - the new Nordstrom Rack is opened at Riverwalk, the True Religion Store on Canal Street and the new shopping that's happening in the South Market District over by Lafayette Square. All that is new within the last year," DDD President and CEO Kurt Weigle said.
As usual, the city promises an enhanced police presence and security measures around the Superdome and downtown throughout the weekend.
On the national level, federal law enforcement is concerned about potential terror attacks around the Thanksgiving holiday.
"We train for this all the time. Throughout the year we always really prepare for all of our major events, for potential terrorists attacks. Security packages are in place to make sure that we are prepared for anything that comes our way. We don't have any threats, we don't have any credible threats, we don't have any threats about this weekend, but you always want to stay vigilant, and NOPD does this better than any other police department in the country," Landrieu said.
"There's really no separation between us, our partners in the state and the federal government. We share intelligence constantly along with our intelligence agencies," said Commander Nick Gernon of the Eighth Police District, which includes the French Quarter and downtown.
Among the many Bayou Classic activities are a Thanksgiving Day parade, and then a career and college expo and the famed Battle of the Bands on Friday.