Legislators welcome Mrs. Benson to Capitol to tout economic benefits of Super Bowl

Updated: May. 24, 2018 at 6:45 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE -- As legislators squabbled Thursday over a $648 million budget gap, Gov. John Bel Edwards welcomed New Orleans Saints owner Gayle Benson to the Capitol to tout the tax and economic benefits of holding the 2024 Super Bowl in New Orleans.

NFL team owners unanimously voted Wednesday morning to award the NFL's 58th championship game to New Orleans. Edwards said the 2013 Super Bowl in New Orleans generated $21 million in direct taxes and had an estimated $400 million impact in Louisiana.

The owners' decision ended New Orleans' two-bid losing streak for the popular event.

"This is not just a big win for the Crescent City, this is a big win for the state of Louisiana," Edwards said.

"We are once again showing that people with business opportunities from all over want to be here in Louisiana and New Orleans," he added.

Edwards and legislative leaders thanked Benson for her work on the bid and representing the Saints well in the NFL owners meeting in Atlanta.

Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, reminisced on the love her late husband, Tom Benson, had for his sports organizations. He thanked Mrs. Benson for carrying through "that same enthusiasm and energy for our state."

Benson, in turn, expressed her gratitude to legislators for their help in bringing Super Bowl LVIII to New Orleans, the 11th time the Big Easy will host the event.

"We could not do it without you - this is a public private partnership that works very well," New Orleans Sports Foundation President and CEO Jay Cicero said to surrounding legislators.

Approximately $165 million of the Saints' $1.5 billion value can be attributed to public funding, tax breaks and incentives granted to the Bensons each year according to an analysis conducted by the Times-Picayune in 2016.

Earlier this month, the Legislature passed a bill to help Louisiana attract major sporting events. The bill, awaiting consideration from the governor, would streamline the process so that Louisiana can provide proof that state funds exist to pay for portions of the projects.

Last year, New Orleans hosted the NBA All-Star game. Along with the 2024 Super Bowl, Louisiana will host a number of the nation's top sporting events in upcoming years. New Orleans will host the College Football Playoff national championship game, the NCAA Women's Final Four in 2020 and the NCAA Men's Final Four in 2022.

The 2013 Super Bowl also prompted hundreds of millions in infrastructure improvements in New Orleans.

Mrs. Benson assumed the role of owner after her husband's death in April. As she celebrated the 2024 Super Bowl selection at the Capitol, she said she knew that "he is smiling today with us."

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