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Entries in New Orleans (4)

Saturday
Feb022013

New Orleans’ Merchants Hope for a Super Bowl Boost

Jim Ryan/ABC News Radio(NEW ORLEANS) -- Fans of the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers are flying into New Orleans for Sunday's Super Bowl, and local business owners are happy for the influx of dollars.

The Super Bowl host committee predicts that the Crescent City will see a $430 million benefit.  

However, Alan Minor, a painter and native of New Orleans, said he's had few takers for his artwork hanging on the wrought-iron fence around Jackson Square. “Sometimes it's a little slow, so it's a hit-and-miss kind of thing,” Minor added.

Some small business owners complain that the Super Bowl has brought in plenty of executives and media, but few tourists. They welcome the return of Mardi Gras next weekend.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan252013

New Orleans Prepares for Super Bowl 2013 and Mardi Gras

Larry French/Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS) -- The people of New Orleans have hosted nine Super Bowls since 1970, but Super Bowl 2013 may be one of the most meaningful yet.

That, of course, is because it's the first Super Bowl in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina devastated the region in 2005.

When the San Francisco 49ers compete against the Baltimore Ravens on Feb. 3, it may rank with the 2002 game, when New Orleans hosted Super Bowl XXXVI after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"Our home was destroyed by water," said Doug Thornton, 54, senior vice president of SMG, the management company of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.  "Like many in New Orleans, we struggled at times, but have been an active part of the city.  For many of us who have gone through this, there is a tremendous sense of pride to showcase our city [for those who] who may have not been here since Katrina."

The Superdome's manager since 1997, Thornton was in the Superdome for five days when Hurricane Katrina made landfall.  Back then, it was called the Louisiana Superdome.  It later became a shelter for thousands of displaced residents who had lost their homes.

"It's a fixture in the city," Thornton said.  "You can't drive anywhere without seeing it.  You can't think about going to an event unless you're coming here."

Thornton said the connection between the 37-year-old building and the local residents is even stronger since Katrina.

"We commonly refer to it as the living room of New Orleans," Thornton said.

German-based car company Mercedes-Benz purchased the naming rights to the stadium in 2011, and Thornton said people embraced the new name immediately, "because we kept the word Superdome in the title."

On game day, Thornton said, he won't be able to enjoy the game.  He'll show up to the Superdome around 7:30 a.m., make his rounds around the stadium, and his day will end well after midnight.

"I've come to learn after doing these events for many years [that] there's no enjoyment," Thornton said.  "You learn quickly in this business you can no longer be a fan.  We're workers.  This is a lifestyle, not a job.  You're committed to it.  It's 24-7."

The same can be said for the 5,000-or-so workers who will be in the Superdome on game day.

"It's no different than a football player getting ready for the game.  You have to be ready mentally and physically," he said.

The city has been preparing for this moment since May 2009, when New Orleans was named host of Super Bowl 47.

Jay Cicero, 50, executive director of the Super Bowl host committee and president and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, said more than $1 billion in recent infrastructure improvements were not done just for the Super Bowl, but the completion dates were moved up "dramatically" because of the big game.

The city also recently completed a $350 million renovation to the Louis Armstrong International Airport.

On Monday, the city will host a ceremony for the expansion of the historic street car line to one block away from the Superdome.

Cicero said about 100,000 people are expected to travel to New Orleans from out of town for events related to the Super Bowl, which are listed on NewOrleansSuperBowl.com.

The city is also hosting other events that sandwich the Super Bowl because of Mardis Gras 2013.

An early estimate from the University of New Orleans predicted the Super Bowl's economic impact to the region would be valued around $434 million.  It's a whopping figure compared to the past Super Bowls in New Orleans and a reflection of the expanding efforts of the National Football League to create an extravaganza for the community.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Feb262012

BP Trial Delayed by a Week to Discuss Settlement Plans

PRNewsFoto(NEW ORLEANS) -- BP and the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee announced on Sunday that the start of the Deepwater Horizon Multi-District Litigation trial has been adjourned a week by the U.S. District Court.

The adjournment is intended to allow BP and the PSC officials more time to discuss settlement plans in hopes of reaching an agreement. The officials will discuss how best to compensate the people and businesses affected by the Deepwater Horizon accident that killed 11 people and spilled over 180 million gallons of oil into the Gulf in 2010.

The civil trial is slated to be held on March 5.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug292011

Oyster Population Plummets in Louisiana after BP Spill, Floods

Workers offload oysters in Pass Christian, Mississippi. Mario Tama/Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS) -- On this sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana and Mississippi are battling a sharp decline in the oyster population, which may not recover until 2013 now that a two-year influx of fresh water has killed off millions of the mollusks.

After the BP oil spill in 2010, water was diverted out of the Mississippi River to keep the oil away from coastal wetlands. In the process, fresh water flooded into oyster hatcheries, disrupting the delicate saline balance required for oysters to survive. When saline levels get too low, algae die, eliminating the oyster's food supply.

And if it weren't already enough that the Gulf Coast had been hammered by the largest oil spill in U.S. history as well as record drought, oyster farmers got hit again in May after rain and snowmelt had caused the Mississippi River to rise higher than it had in 70 years.

The Army Corps of Engineers opened the Bonnet Carre Spillway, located west of New Orleans, to divert rising Mississippi River floodwaters from the city. Soon after, they also opened the Morganza spillway, diverting water away from both Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and adding even more fresh water to oyster grounds.

"This year we'll produce about 50 percent of our traditional in-shell oysters," said Mike Voisin, CEO of Motivatit Seafoods, which typically produces about 20 million pounds of in-shell oysters.

During a typical oyster season, which starts in September in Louisiana, Voisin said the state produces a third of the nation's oysters. But this year, he estimates the number will decline from an average of 250 million pounds to about 125 million pounds.

Next year, he expects the number of oysters produced to decline even further, to 87.5 million pounds, and the price of oysters to rise.

The 2010 water diversion was successful in preventing Louisiana's coastline from becoming contaminated, Voisin said.

"We have 7,500 miles of coastline around Louisiana and only had 400 miles that were oiled."

But the impact that diversion had on the oysters will likely last until 2013, possibly longer.

Voisin, who also serves as chairman of the Gulf Seafood Marketing Coalition, says oyster producers east of the Mississippi River are now also investigating a mysterious substance growing on the shells oyster larvae attach to (commonly referred to as "cultch"). He believes it's due to the lack of harvesting in the area after the BP oil spill.

An oyster mortality study conducted in August of 2010 and published this year found an estimated 77 percent of the oysters in the Breton Sound basin off the Louisiana coast died.

In Mississippi, the oyster population had huge losses, especially in the western Mississippi Sound, which houses most of the commercial reefs.

Mississippi's restoration efforts will eventually make an impact, he said, but probably not for another 18 to 24 months, the time it takes for oysters to grow. Currently, water salinities are back to normal, and the state will continue cultivating cultch plants, providing oyster shells or limestone for the oyster larvae to attach, using $3 million in restoration funding.

In Louisiana, however, water salinity continues to be a problem.

Alligator farmer Stephen Sagrera, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission chairman, said the oyster population has been "severely hurt" by the extra fresh water, and the 7-member commission will take up the issue Thursday when it sets dates for the upcoming oyster season.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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