Saints may help save the city

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 30, 2006

There is an annual ritual at the Hall house, started by David and now carried on by our son Matthew. Every August Matthew gives me the annual update on the Saints football team and how this is &8220;going to be the year.&8221; No matter how bad I know it will be it has always been my job to humor them and just nod and smile. And then I go on about my business and try to ignore the screaming and yelling on Sunday afternoon.

This year Matthew was right, this is the year. Maybe not for a Super Bowl bid or even close, but this is the Saints year. And Monday night was their homecoming and their own personal Super Bowl, complete with big name entertainment.

For the first time in team history all the season tickets are sold out and Monday night the Superdome was packed. When you think of all the area has been through and how much more is left to be done it is no wonder that the city embraced their football team.

Email newsletter signup

As the Saints ran out onto the field led by Joe Horn, I bet you could hear the noise all the way to Bourbon Street. And when a minute and thirty seconds into the game the Saints went ahead by seven points I could hear Matthew screaming all the way from Oxford.

And the team never looked back as they showed the world they are a new team in their new home and take the responsibility of energizing the city seriously.

Fifty-six weeks ago, the Superdome was the epitome of what was wrong in New Orleans after the levees broke and the city flooded. The images of hungry, hot, angry and discouraged residents were shown to the nation over and over. Some said it would never be rebuilt in time for this football season. There were and still are plenty who say that it is ridiculous to spend the money to rebuild a sports arena when you have so many neighborhoods that remain empty and devastated.

And even though more must be done and new housing is moving slowly, what New Orleans got Monday night goes beyond a football game. The money spent on what is the internationally known symbol of their city was well spent in terms of advertising dollars. How many times Monday night did the announcers say that New Orleans was open for business and tourists were needed to come back to visit? How many times did they show people eating at Emeril&8217;s and partying on Bourbon Street? You cannot fathom how much free advertising that was for the city and its businesses. And they have to have the money to survive and rebuild.

The same is true in Biloxi. The Beau Rivage is open again, nicer than ever and the money it is bringing back in is money in the bank for the city.

And on top of that, we got to see a great football game, at least if you are a Saints fan. Michael Vick would return to his bench on the sideline and just sit and shake his head in disbelief. From Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister there was no big show, none of the much worried about competition &8212; just solid team playing. There was one call for too many men on the field that made me shake my head and remember the old days. But there is a new team down in the Big Easy. On Monday night they provided a few hours of joy for a town that needs it and proved to everyone else that New Orleans is open for business, we are welcome to come down and they have pro team worth watching.

Christina Hall

can be reached by e-mail at