NFL owners today will decide who hosts Super Bowl LII in early 2018. Each city is offering a competitive bid and competition is expected to be tight.
New Orleans is offering more than just the experience of visiting the Crescent City for a week. Even though the Superdome completed more than a hundred-million dollars of upgrades before hosting the game in February 2013, local officials are promising the NFL tens of millions of dollars in more upgrades to the facility.
Officials in Minnesota think they have trumped that with a brand new stadium for the Vikings in downtown Minneapolis that costs in excess of $1 billion. Historically, the NFL has rewarded the construction of new stadia with the next available Super Bowl.
"The stadium will be enclosed, the skyway will connect you with all the hotels and shopping centers and everything," said David Leatherman, who covers the Twin Cities area for the Minnesota Radio Network. "Although it will be the middle of winter, the folks around here thing the fact that we can keep folks indoors and entertained, we've got a pretty good shot at the Super Bowl."
In Indianapolis, Lucas Oil Stadium will turn ten years old in 2018. The city received good reviews for hosting Super Bowl XLVI in February 2012, and leaders there have already raised $30 million in donations to help them pull it off again.
But New Orleans Saints co-owner and executive vice president Rita Benson LeBlanc says the Big Easy has another ace up its sleeve.
"This is just a special moment, it's our 300th anniversary," she told WWL's Kristian Garic at the owners meeting in Atlanta. "There's very few tricentennials, there's very few places that will celebrate it as emphatically as we are."
Indeed, the city's 300th birthday is the focal point of the pitch:
"It is the theme of our bid in 2018: 'No better time,' and it is interwoven throughout the entire physical bid as well as the bid presentation," said Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation president Jay Cicero. "In our 22, 23 years of doing this with the sports foundation, this is the most comprehensive, creative bid we've ever produced."
LeBlanc said she's confident they can bring the Super Bowl back to New Orleans for a record-setting eleventh time: "Absolutely! We've been charming every NFL owner since 2013."
The NFL will announce its decision this afternoon.