New Orleans Saints Owner/Vice Chairman of the Board Rita Benson LeBlanc helped kicked off Super Bowl XLVII festivities on Monday at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention.
LeBlanc was a guest on the NFL Network show “NFL AM” where she was interviewed by anchor Steve Wyche about all things New Orleans.
LeBlanc surprised the show’s crew with a New Orleans favorite – a king cake.
Later in the day, LeBlanc joined New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, President of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation Jay Cicero, Super Bowl committee chairmen James Carville and Mary Matalin at a press conference to discuss the process of preparing to host the sports world’s biggest event.
“It’s a great pleasure and honor for our family to help host this game,” LeBlanc said at the press conference. “The Super Bowl is the premiere sporting event and is there is no place that hosts it like New Orleans.”
Sunday’s game marks the 10th time the Crescent City has hosted the NFL's marquee game, tied with South Florida for the most in NFL history, and the first time since 2002.
Cicero said at Monday’s press conference that they will seek permission from the NFL to present a bid for the 2018 Super Bowl. 2018 is the 300th anniversary of New Orleans.
“It’s a team effort and it is something you definitely have to be competitive with,” Cicero said about the bidding process. “We really studied the event and because this will be the New Orleans Sports Foundation’s fourth Super Bowl, We have a superior knowledge about this event that other cities may not have."
633 media organizations were accredited to cover Super Bowl XLIII, the most in Super Bowl history. 4,589 journalists were credentialed from 28 countries, the most countries ever represented at a Super Bowl.
"The story is much, much bigger than the Super Bowl," Landrieu said Monday. "This is a story about the resurrection and redemption of a great American city.
The host committee discussed a number of improvements to the city since the 2002 Super Bowl including:
*4,000 plus hotel rooms have been added around the city.
*The Mercedes-Benz Superdome was completely redone and Champions Square, a public plaza near the Superdome, was built three years ago.
*The Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport has undergone $350 million in improvements.
*A new streetcar line opened on Monday morning. The streetcar can shuttle people from the city's main train and bus station to just a few blocks from Superdome.
"We will beat any other city, any day, putting on an event," said Landrieu.