Goodell: New Orleans ‘terrific,’ despite blackout

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The blackout at the Superdome will not stop the Super Bowl from returning to New Orleans.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that despite the electrical outage which delayed Sunday night’s game for 34 minutes, the city did a “terrific” job hosting its first pro football championship in the post-Katrina era.

“Let me reiterate again what an extraordinary job the city of New Orleans has done,” said Goodell, speaking Monday at a post-Super Bowl media conference held for the game’s most valuable player, Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco, and winning coach John Harbaugh. “The most important thing is to make sure people understand it was a fantastic week.”

New Orleans has hosted 10 Super Bowls, including Baltimore’s 34-31 victory over San Francisco, tied for the most with Miami.

While serving as the site of America’s biggest sporting event and focus of an unofficial national holiday gets any place a lot of attention, this game had special meaning for New Orleans.

The city last hosted the Super Bowl in 2002 and officials were hoping this would serve as the ultimate showcase _ on a global scale _ of how far it has come since being devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The storm winds tore holes in the roof of the Superdome and there was water damage from the rain that affected electrical systems and caused mold to spread. More than $330 million has been spent to upgrade the facility, which has hosted the annual Sugar Bowl, Saints games, two BCS title games and a men’s Final Four since the storm.

Yet the loss of power was an embarrassment that quickly became perhaps the signature moment of the Ravens’ win.

Goodell said not to worry.

“I do not think this will have an effect on future Super Bowls in New Orleans,” he said. “I fully expect to be back here for Super Bowls. I hope we will be back. We want to be back here.”

Local officials have said they will bid to host an 11th Super Bowl in 2018 to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the city’s founding. Political strategist James Carville, who along with wife Mary Matalin served as host committee co-chairs, said he disagreed with the premise that the outage overshadowed a full week of celebration.

Still, he acknowledged some initial anxiety when the lights went down _ using a hurricane metaphor, no less.

“When this thing happened, I said to myself, `This could be a Category 5,’” Carville said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “It turned out to be a fast-moving tropical storm. Everybody was completely well behaved. The problem was identified and fixed.”

Carville said some good came out of the incident because it showed off what many people are calling “the new New Orleans.”

“We ran into a glitch,” he said, “and somebody fixed it.”

That seemed to be the way Goodell and other NFL executives viewed it as well.

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