Well, the news did not make the front page of today’s Wall Street Journal and New York Times, but it did make the cover of my Cleveland Plain Dealer and I suspect most other local papers: The New Orleans Saints returned to the Superdome yesterday to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 23-3 on Monday Night Football. It was impossible not to watch the pre-game show, the doors opening, the saints marching in, and the Saints winning without being thrilled for the people and city of New Orleans. And to hear ESPN’s Chris Berman recite Steve Goodman’s lyrics, “Good morning America, how are you? / Don’t you know me, I’m you’re native son…” capped off the night in a most fitting way.
Some $185 milliion dollars in repairs were spent in repairing the Superdome stadium, and while I generally think the value of NFL football to a city is overstated (it’s only eight home games per year, after all), I couldn’t help but think about how the reopening of this large-scale experience venue proves that economic experiences hold the key to economic development in not only New Orleans, but other communities as well.
It’s about time that we recognize that the most powerful community-building ventures are commercial experiences, not manufacturing plants and service centers.