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Preserving the Past...Ensuring the Future
Saturday, December 10, 2011
“The Sugar Bowl is a true monument to success, having withstood the test of time and circumstance to become part of the very fabric of New Orleans and Louisiana, The economic impact in the form of tourism spending and tax dollars generated is such a key asset to the entire region; and in addition, each year it brings the national spotlight to our city and state to showcase their virtues to an audience of millions. And the Sugar Bowl is not just a football game; it also aids the community with its support of different programs held throughout the year.”
-Mitch Landrieu, the Mayor of New Orleans
The Allstate Sugar Bowl ranks as one of the most uniquely successful amateur athletic achievements in the history of American sports. Born in the depths of the Great Depression and continuing through a World War and multiple devastating hurricanes, it has not only survived, but thrived. It is now recognized as one of the premier college sports events in the country despite being based in a relatively small city (No. 52 DMA) with limited corporate backing (New Orleans is home to just one Fortune 500 company). But the key to the group has been its 100-plus volunteer members who remain respectful of the past while being focused on the future, both for the organization and for New Orleans and Louisiana.
When the Mid-Winter Sports Association came together to establish the original Sugar Bowl in the early 1930s, the sole purpose of the organization was to sponsor and promote amateur sporting events which would foster revenue and spark economic growth in the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana. To this day, that remains the mission of the Sugar Bowl. And the numbers show the amazing success the organization has achieved.
Over the last decade, the Sugar Bowl has generated nearly $2 billion of economic impact for the city and the state. With the Bowl hosting both the Allstate Sugar Bowl and the Allstate BCS National Championship game this January, that number is expected to see a massive surge. In 2008, the last time, New Orleans experienced this “double-hosting” scenario, the city and state realized an economic impact of over $400 million.
Since Hurricane Katrina hit the region in 2005, the Sugar Bowl has been a vital partner to the region – in the last five years, the bowl has generated over $53 million in tax revenue for the state and nearly $30 million for the city.
The Sugar Bowl was also the first big event to fully commit to the city of New Orleans after Katrina.
“Despite the devastation of Katrina, we had no doubt that we would do whatever it took to get back to New Orleans as soon as possible,” said Paul Hoolahan, the Chief Executive Officer of the Allstate Sugar Bowl. “After ensuring the viability of the 2006 Sugar Bowl, everything we did was directed towards re-establishing ourselves in New Orleans and becoming a driving force in the revitalization of a city that had experienced something never before seen in this country.”
The commitment of the Sugar Bowl, coupled with the confidence shown by many other local organizations, led to the Crescent City making an amazingly quick return to its rightful place as the best big-event city in the United States. The 2007 Sugar Bowl Classic was followed by the 2008 Sugar Bowl and then less than a week later, the first post-Katrina BCS Championship game in the city.
The Sugar Bowl Committee has continued to serve as a key component of the city’s vitality in the “big-event” market by assisting with New Orleans’ bid for the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four by providing extensive financial security for the event. The Sugar Bowl is serving on the Local Organizing Committee for that event, as well as for the 2013 NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four.
The Sugar Bowl’s presence as an essential cog in the event machine of New Orleans is nothing new.
From the first Sugar Bowl Classic on January 1, 1935, the organization experienced tremendous success, becoming the driving force behind the continued expansion of Tulane Stadium, then the site of the game. The stadium, which would come to be referred to as Sugar Bowl Stadium, grew from a quaint 24,000-seat venue into an 80,000-seat showpiece.
A 2008 Times-Picayune article stated the value of the Sugar Bowl’s presence in the city, “According to Dave Dixon, whose efforts in the 1960s helped lead to New Orleans landing an NFL franchise and the construction of the Superdome, without the Sugar Bowl the city likely would never have become the major sports event site it is today.”
While big events such as the Sugar Bowl Classic, BCS National Championships and Final Fours are the most visible Sugar Bowl contributions, they are by no means its only way of leaving its mark.
An $800,000 commitment to New Orleans City Park gave a big boost to the renovation of Tad Gormley Stadium, a primary location for scores of high school football games each year.
This summer, the group’s executive committee approved a multi-million commitment to the revitalization of Joe Brown Park in New Orleans East, a major community youth facility that is expected to provide a significant boost to the quality of life for the families in the area. The bowl works with the National Football Foundation to provide scholarships to local prep football players and is a key partner with the NCAA and its Youth Football Initiative in the city. The Sugar Bowl is a sponsor of events in a wide-range of sports including baseball, basketball, golf, lacrosse, sailing, soccer, swimming, tennis, track and field and volleyball. It also sponsors the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame and the Manning Award, which honors the top collegiate quarterback in the nation each year.
Throughout its history, the Sugar Bowl has paid nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to the schools and conferences which participated in the annual football classic, as well as tens of thousands of dollars (over $150,000 since 2007) to the SEC Postgraduate Scholarship Program. The Bowl has also donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to universities in need, including Virginia Tech after its tragic campus shootings in 2007 and the University of Alabama after the devastating tornados of this past spring.
Whether it’s hosting the biggest college football event in the nation in January, sponsoring a regional tennis championship in April or assisting with the production of a high school football doubleheader in September, the Allstate Sugar Bowl has held fast to its original mission and remains dedicated to “Preserving the Past and Ensuring the Future.”