Sugar Bowl Success

Last night’s Sugar Bowl at the Superdome was a hit for the city of New Orleans. The attendance of 73,789 was the most for the game in three years. And the 77th installment of the game translated to big money for local businesses. Last year’s game meant a $140-million dollar economic impact for the city. This year’s game was expected to do just as well, if not better.

The atmosphere inside the Superdome was electric. I was only there until the second quarter, but that was more than enough time to see and hear the passion of the Ohio State and Arkansas fans. It’s tough to judge numbers by eyeballing a crowd like that when the teams wear similar shades of red. But based on noise, hand waving and signage, Arkansas fans dominated OSU.

I talked to numerous fans of both schools before the game and it was obvious the Arkansas contingent was thrilled to be there. It was their first BCS bowl game, after all. Ohio State had seen it all before.

I was in the elevator with one Arkansas fan before the game. He was drunk, incoherent and could hardly stand up. He also had nacho cheese sauce all over his Hogs sweatshirt. The elevator operator told him, “You should pace yourself on a day like this.” His friend, who was less drunk, said, “We’re kind of excited. We’re soaking it all up.”

My former morning news producer at WESH in Orlando was here for the game. Jon is the biggest Arkansas fan I know. His car broke down in the Florida panhandle during his drive here, so he rented a car and continued on. Nothing was keeping him from seeing his Hogs. He texted me this morning: “Game was a blast. Awesome atmosphere. Hope we’ll be back a lot.”

I don’t know about that last part, especially with quarterback Ryan Mallett departing. But Jon was right about the rest. What a great game on a great night in a great city. New Orleans was at its best, hosting the most exciting bowl game of the postseason so far.

Kudos to the Sugar Bowl committee for doing an incredible job.

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