NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The NBA All-Star weekend hailed a slam dunk for New Orleans. Mayor Mitch Landrieu called it a success Monday that generated millions of dollars for the city.
The mayor points out New Orleans is the only city in America that could pull off such a big event while at the same time parades are rolling and disaster recovery is underway in New Orleans East.
That is exactly what happened this weekend.
When the NBA pulled the all-star game from Charlotte in July, New Orleans had a short time to plan and organize for the event.
An estimated 300,000 people flocked to New Orleans this weekend. City leaders estimated a $500 million economic impact.
Parades rolled Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the same time. The New Orleans Police Department, Louisiana State Police and federal authorities worked to keep people safe, making more than 100 arrests and seized guns off the street.
Landrieu said disaster recovery in New Orleans East continued the entire weekend. The NBA even organized volunteer groups to help gut homes and clear debris.
Tens of thousands of dollars were also donated to help tornado victims.
The mayor said it was a coordinated effort that landed the city a big win.
He said the overall economic impact between the big game and the first big weekend of carnival season was equivalent to hosting a Super Bowl.
"This weekend was about more than just a good time. That's what our business is, sports-entertainment business," Landrieu said. "When the final counts come in, Mardi Gras and the NBA All-Star Game are going to have generated millions of dollars to our local economy. Visitors were here from everywhere. Hotels in New Orleans were at a 99 percent occupancy."
The mayor pointed out this is just half time for New Orleans because there is another big carnival weekend coming up that will lead right into Fat Tuesday.