NEW ORLEANS — Welcome to the BCS.
As I rolled down I-10 this afternoon with the equipment for our coverage of this year’s football bowl trip, it became immediately apparent that, well, we weren’t in Memphis any more.
No disrespect at all to the fine folks that hosted us last season at the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, but when you round the bend and see the afternoon sun shining off the golden sides of the Louisiana Superdome, there’s something bigger about this year’s trip. It starts with the massive structure of the Superdome.
Today is unpacking and settling in for the team. The football travel party has a lot of work to do on this afternoon, from setting up team meeting rooms to checking in players. There is an official welcome from the Sugar Bowl that will be a photo opportunity this evening, but for the first 48 hours here in New Orleans, it’s pretty much business for the team as they acclimate.
Tomorrow the Razorbacks will visit Children’s Hospital and have more private time before the first open practice and media events on Wednesday. We will have coverage of it all here at ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
The team is settled into the riverfront area near the New Orleans Convention Center in the area once occupied by the 1984 World’s Fair. It was unfortunately infamous during Katrina. Today, none of those effects are apparent here on the river front, and it looks much the same way it did when I last visited — a Louisiana High School Athletics Association championship game I covered back in the time of dinosaurs — or the couple of CoSIDA conventions held nearby on Canal Street.
During the week, we plan to have daily video updates that will post to the Sugar Bowl Central page, as well as blog entries, tweets and photo galleries. Keep checking back each evening around 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., depending on the day’s schedule, for the latest.
Also for our fans headed south, there is an impressive amount of things to do in and around the Superdome/Central Business District/French Quarter area. As the week continues, I’ll drop some references of must sees ranging from the Audibon Zoo and the Audibon Aquarium of the Americas (not far from us) to a couple of interesting side trips that may not be so obvious.
For today, a couple of quick pictures of the Mississippi River, running right behind our rooms, and a couple of quick stories.
Fans as they arrive will see some of the remnants of the old 1984 World’s Fair. If you were from Louisiana, it was a true mixed blessing event. Those around New Orleans saw it as a huge boon, renovating a warehouse district at the end of the American Quarter and a great compliment to the Jackson Square/French Quarter area nearby and the Superdome up Poydras. If you were from the rest of the state, well, let’s say the opinion was mixed.
Myself from north Louisiana, I made three or four visits to the fair, a couple in official reporting capacity and a couple as a tourist. It was a great event. The Riverwalk is one of the largest remnants, along with the New Orleans Convention Center itself. The Canada pavillion was part of the NOCC, and next to it the space shuttle Enterprise anchoring the U.S. pavillion. Yes, that non-orbital flight test version of the shuttle — big deal then in 1984 to see it in person.
I noticed the old gateway to the Italian section of the fair still stands, along with one of the other main gates, now the Riverwalk entrance. Part of the main gate with Neptune and the mermaids — at least the Neptune part — is being reassembled near the Mardi Gras World display. Tomorrow, I’ll have to go look and see if the mermaids survived Katrina. (There a little inside reference for 1984 fair attendees).
We’ll be back later tonight with some video of team arrival. Until then, bienvenue au louisiane.