Only in New Orleans could this be classified as “a return to normalcy.” The Crescent City, torn asunder by Hurricane Katrina, stamped by federal neglect and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s neoliberal experimentaion, will once again collide with the freewheeling, hard-partying frenzy of the NFL’s crown jewel: the Super Bowl.
It was announced this week that New Orleans will host their tenth Super Bowl in 2013, to the cheers of journalists with bionic livers and expense-account executives the nation over. It’s also being celebrated across the sporting spectrum as an act of altruism. It shouldn’t be, but that hasn’t stopped the soundtrack of salutations.
ESPN’s Len Pasquarelli wrote, “The Super Bowl was made for New Orleans. And as anybody who has attended a championship game there knows, New Orleans was made for the Super Bowl…. Great move owners!”
Governor Jindal said, “This is a huge win for New Orleans but also the entire state of Louisiana.” Previously, Jindal has decried federal spending on disaster relief, which is somewhat like a governor of Nevada making a push to outlaw gambling.
The NFL wants to play up the choice as an act of post-Katrina missionary work, with commissioner Roger Goodell saying, “I think this is a great statement about the spirit and people of New Orleans and the great relationship the Saints and the NFL have in that community.”
“No city has been through more than New Orleans,” said Rita Benson LeBlanc, a part owner of the New Orleans Saints. “This is just a true testament to what an entire community can do.”
Pasquarelli added, “Playing host to a Super Bowl should address some of the city’s lingering problems.” By “lingering problems” he must mean sky-high poverty and unemployment. Much has been made about the city’s comeback, on the basis of healthy employment numbers (relative to the rest of the country) and a mini-construction boom buoyed by post-Katrina reconstruction.
But many New Orleans residents still feel compelled to celebrate any infusion of business, particularly the business of unlimited expense accounts and debauchery the Super Bowl inevitably brings with it. This is because the poverty in the city is still persistent. In March, the metro area lost jobs for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. And New Orleans, with some families still living in federal trailers and others still trying to return, remains the murder capital of the United States.