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05 24, 2012 by The Times-Picayune
Less than nine months until Super Bowl XLVII kicks off in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the New Orleans Super Bowl Host Committee and the Saints announced Chevron as one of its major corporate sponsors Wednesday during the "Wednesdays at the Square" concert series at Lafayette Square.
Chevron will serve as the host committee's volunteer services partner, and as part of the announcement, officials from Chevron, the host committee and the Saints said they are also kicking off a drive to find 8,000 volunteers for the Super Bowl.
"We support the communities that we operate in, so it was a fairly easy decision for us to do that," said Warner Williams, the vice president of Chevron North America Exploration and Production Company/Gulf of Mexico Business Unit.
"Any time you can help facilitate $400 million in local revenue or help create 6,000 jobs with an event, it's a no-brainer. We want this to go off very well, so we stepped up to the table."
Although terms of Chevron's sponsorship, which a host committee executive termed as "substantial," were not revealed, the partnership has helped push the host committee's fundraising past $5 million. The host committee, which has a $12 million budget, hopes to raise at least $6 million privately, and it will get another $6 million from the state to put on the game.
Chevron plans to play a major role in helping with volunteer services, including using some of its staff to help support the program.
"Chevron brings a different level of involvement to the table like we have never seen before," said Jay Cicero, the executive director of the host committee. "Their entire project team is involved with our volunteer management staff."
Together they'll be working to increase the number of volunteers the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation has in its database.
Cicero said there are already more than 9,000 names in the database, but to fill 8,000 spots, they'll likely need at least 13,000 volunteers to pick from.
Before the news was announced, Mayor Mitch Landrieu helped ignite the crowd of about 2,500 at Lafayette Square by taking a shot at ESPN radio personality Colin Cowherd, who blasted New Orleans and questioned why so many major sporting events come to the city.
During his radio show Tuesday, Cowherd made disparaging comments about the city's airport, crime rate and the number of hotel rooms.
Those comments didn't sit well with the mayor.
"I was listening to that guy, and I couldn't really believe that he said that," Landrieu said. "Maybe he doesn't believe that the city of New Orleans has hosted more Super Bowls than any city in America except Miami. ... Maybe he didn't hear that the All-Star game for the NBA is coming back here.
"So anyway," Landrieu continued, "we are going to figure this out for him, and we are going to remind the rest of America something they already know: that New Orleans puts on the best damn party of any other city anywhere in America."
At one point, Landrieu, obviously taking a shot at Cowherd, asked the crowd, "How do you spell dumb ass in French?"
Cicero, too, took time to address Cowherd's comments. As one of the most integral people in helping steer major sporting events to New Orleans, Cicero took offense to Cowherd's claim that New Orleans, which in the past five months has hosted the BCS title game and Final Four and in February will host the Super Bowl, was perhaps landing these events by default.
"He's obviously expressing his opinion, which he is entitled to," Cicero said. "But when you look at the facts of what we do, and to say that New Orleans has been given these events by default, is absolutely ludicrous. We are aggressive. We market. We go out and actively get these events. And when they come here, we do them better than any other city.
"And that's why they come here, not because it's by default and they just come to throw a party in the French Quarter. We've got to beat the other cities, not only financially, but in everything that we offer to convince them to come back."
VOLUNTEER SIGNUP: The host committee has set up a text messaging system to sign up volunteers for Super Bowl XLVII. People who wish to volunteer can text 63566 and type in "Super." The host committee is also accepting volunteers on its website, gnosports.com.
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