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City leaders talk public safety ahead of big Final Four weekend

Published: Mar. 28, 2022 at 9:21 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - For the first time in a decade, the Final Four returns to New Orleans this weekend and with the thousands of visitors expected, there’s also concern over public safety.

10 years ago the Final Four brought us 75,000 visitors and this weekend is, of course, expected to surpass that.

“Everybody on the street, we all talked about it sometimes when we go out to the back and they’re like, ‘Oh, we just got slammed and they got slammed’ so it’s great,” Jeromy Smith at Reginelli’s Pizza said.

Smith says the Poydras corridor has seen a boost in business over the past week with a lot of tourists in town already.

“It’s gonna be pretty crazy, but we’re excited, we’re gonna welcome the crazy,” Smith said.

The City wants to make sure they can welcome the crazy safely because all of the upcoming events are important for our economy after such a long time of sacrifice.

“This is our time, Mardi Gras set that tone,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell said. “We managed very well and in addition to that, you know, of course, NCAA, but moving forward with French Quarter Fest, all these different festivals, Jazz Fest, you name it, Essence festival, so there’s no stopping us now.”

That’s why our public safety leaders have been planning this out for the past year. It’s going to look a lot like other major events, like Mardi Gras.

There will be a lot of road closures, parking restrictions, and an influx of traffic downtown, because there are the games, of course, at the Superdome, there’s a music festival all weekend long at Woldenberg park, and fan events at the convention center.

Click HERE to see road closures and a schedule of the FREE events.

“We’ll see additional mounted patrol, officers on foot patrol, as well as our traffic contingency, similar to what we would normally do, again, when we have major events, host major events in the city of New Orleans and I’m confident that that presence would deter a lot of behavior,” NOPD Chief Shaun Ferguson said.

On the law enforcement side, it’ll be a unified command structure with local, state, and federal law enforcement partners helping out.

Homeland Security will be monitoring everything all weekend and are planning additional physical security measures like safety lights in the CBD and French Quarter because this boost in tourism affects not just New Orleans’ economy, but the whole state.

“This provides another opportunity for us to demonstrate to the world that we can put on first-class premiere events, do them safely and do them at a level that other cities can only dream of,” Walt Leger with New Orleans & Company said.

There will be a clear bag policy for every game and event. Ferguson also made a plea to the public to leave the weapons at home.

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