NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Carnival season has arrived, but some long-time krewe members may not arrive to their parade this year because of the NBA All-Star game.
The Captain of the Krewe of Caeser says they've lost 32 out-of-state riders because of the increase in hotel costs that weekend; likewise, The Knights of Sparta are down 30 members all because they say they've got nowhere to stay that first weekend of Mardi Gras.
"This year we're gonna be very lucky to maintain the numbers we had last year because a number of people that have come in for many, many years to ride are saying, 'I'm going to have to skip this year because I can't find a hotel, or because I can't afford 500 dollars a night,'" The Masked Captain of the Knights of Sparta, who remains anonymous, said.
Hoteliers, on the other hand, see the All-Star game as a win, especially on a weekend with a heavier local crowd than the Carnival weekend before Mardi Gras day.
"It's a great, great time to see fantastic parades, it's a great time to be in the city, but we just don't draw as many guests as we do over the second weekend, so to be able to attract the NBA All-Star Game has created a fantastic sell out for all the hotels," David Teich, General Manager of Windsor Court Hotel, said.
Teich is also the chairman of the Greater New Orleans Hotel and Lodging Association and said the members are thrilled to host the game alongside Carnival.
Still, the Knights of Sparta, even with fewer riders, won't snub the additional visitors they're sure to see during the first weekend of Mardi Gras.
"[It's] a dual edge sword because we'll have a lot more people in the streets to see our parades because of the big convention and because of the NBA All-Star game crowd, but when it's hard for your own members to get in it does affect you," The Masked Captain said.
Teich knows it's not just hotels that will see a major benefit.
"It's tours, it's restaurants, it's all the attractions, the WWII Museum, everybody is gonna benefit from this," Teich said.
That's why Sparta will still roll, maybe a little lighter than normal, but ready for a larger crowd than before.
"Anything that is good for the city the Carnival organizations want to see. So it becomes a case this year is it better for us, or is it better for the city and we're gonna have to go along with it's better for the city," The Masked Captain said.
The Knights of Sparta hope to bolster their membership by adding locals willing to join for their 2017 parade.