Independent voices from the TWT Communities
After slicing through downtown traffic in the type of motorcade a head of state might expect, Geno Auriemma stepped out of Connecticut's bus, bowed his head to receive a Mardi Gras-style beaded necklace with a Final Four medallion on it and entered the team hotel to the music of a live brass band.
When Mary Matalin heard a baby cry during a Super Bowl news conference this week, she paused midsentence, peered in the direction of the fussing child and asked: "Is that my husband?"
A 20-story-high mural of the Lombardi Trophy, affixed to the glass exterior of a bustling hotel that was once a shattered symbol of Hurricane Katrina's devastation, rises like a beacon above the expansive white roof of the Superdome.
The blackout "was pretty innocuous overall," said Jay Cicero, chief of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, which organizes bids for high-profile events like Final Fours and Super Bowls.
Cicero said the NCAA and NFL deserve credit for helping drive New Orleans' recovery from Katrina by awarding the city events that combined have brought tens of thousands of visitors and hundreds of millions of dollars in spending.