Government & Politics
 

City of New Orleans promises $800,000 in local tax rebates to host 2024 Super Bowl

Once again, New Orleans will host the Super Bowl. And once again, that will cost the city some money, city records show.

Last week, the NFL awarded the city the 2024 Super Bowl. It’s usually a highly anticipated announcement, but this time New Orleans was the only city invited to bid for the game.

Even without competition, however, the city committed to a long and potentially expensive list of conditions, including hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax rebates and police officers dedicated to the teams, owners and NFL officials.

A city document, provided in response to a public records request, outlines the city’s commitments for the 2024 bid:

  • Local governments will refund up to $800,000 in local taxes to the NFL and the teams, covering things like lodging and food. The rebate “expressly exclud[es] parties, restaurant dining, alcoholic beverages or any other items that would be subject to … media or public criticism.”
  • At no cost to the NFL, the city will provide 10 police officers per day and 10 per night at each team’s hotel, plus four officers at the NFL headquarters hotel and police escorts for team owners.
  • At no cost to the NFL, the city will operate a shuttle to attractions and the game.
  • The city will establish “Clean Zones” where non-NFL-sanctioned commercial activity, temporary advertising or events will not be permitted on streets or sidewalks.

The city’s previous interpretation of the “Clean Zone” commitment, which included all of the Central Business District, the French Quarter, and the convention center, led to a lawsuit from the ACLU.

The Lens has not been able to obtain the full bid, which is controlled by the city’s host committee, a private group. That document could include additional financial commitments. Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation President Jay Cicero, who heads the host committee, did not respond to requests for comment.

The city last hosted the game in 2013, generating a reported $480 million in spending, according to a study commissioned by the host committee.

Though the city got some additional tax revenue from the estimated 133,000 visitors, it didn’t receive a windfall, then-Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. In part, that’s because the city only receives a portion of sales and hotel taxes collected. Those taxes are split with other local and state entities.

“Even though the Super Bowl is a multimillion-dollar event, this city’s general fund, your bank account, only netted $500,000, barely breaking even for the army of police, fire, EMS, sanitation, public works, permitting and other city employees who work day in and day out to make sure everything went off without a hitch,” Landrieu said in 2014.

Even so, Landrieu’s administration bid for the 2018 game, making many of the same promises. And again for the one in 2019. It lost both.

In March, Landrieu signed an agreement with the nonprofit New Orleans Super Bowl Host Committee, Inc. for the 2024 game. It’s nearly identical to the one for the 2018 bid.

How much the next game will cost the city “is still to be determined,” Beau Tidwell, Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s spokesman, said in a statement.

Tidwell said the city may be able to provide estimates on some items The Lens asked about, including police protection and equipment purchases. However, he did not provide them immediately.

Other costs, like an agreement to provide the NFL with free merchandising space at the airport, “have little to no real cost associated,” Tidwell said.

Tax rebates are not uncommon in these agreements. The city of New Orleans and other local taxing bodies, including the Orleans Parish School Board and the Regional Transit Authority, agreed to refund up to $800,000 for the 2013 Super Bowl.

The tab came to about $500,000.

Asked if other local government bodies have agreed to the rebates, Tidwell said those conversations are still taking place.

“We are in the early days of this process,” he wrote.

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About Charles Maldonado

Charles Maldonado covers the city of New Orleans and other local government bodies. He previously worked for Gambit, New Orleans’ alternative newsweekly, where he covered city hall, criminal justice and public health. Before moving to New Orleans, he covered state and local government for weekly papers in Nashville and Knoxville, Tenn.