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Monday, September 25, 2006

Sports Business Daily Focuses On Superdome On Eve Of Monday Night Game

The Sports Business Daily has a great -- if not well structured -- set of news postings on events and people related to the reopening of the Superdome and this evening's Atlanta Falcons v. New Orleans Saints game.

Superdome Readies For Its Grand Re-Opening Tonight On “MNF”

Superdome Receiving $185M In Renovations
The Superdome will reopen tonight for the first time since Hurricane Katrina for the Falcons-Saints “MNF” game, and the refurbished stadium, “other than the concrete-and-steel superstructure, ... looks nothing like the battered building that almost imploded a year ago,” according to a front-page piece by Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. The “multiphase renovation that will top out at” $185M is more than three-quarters finished, and the Superdome is “more fan-friendly and noticeably brighter than before.” SMG Regional VP Doug Thornton said the Dome is “greatly improved, not just repaired” (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 9/24). Thornton: “There’s a fresh feel. I never thought it would look this good so fast” (SHREVEPORT TIMES, 9/25). Louisiana Stadium & Exposition District (LSED) attorney Larry Roedel said, “It was not an option to demolish the dome. The only option was to make it new and bright, so people could focus on the future” (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 9/24).

FULLY STAFFED FOR SEASON: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL’s Don Muret reports SMG completed one of its “largest recruiting and training efforts to hire 2,500 part-time event workers” for the Saints’ home schedule. Thornton said, “We have less than half the employees that we had before, but the people that are back are experienced, having been through many Super Bowls and Final Fours. That’s a big plus” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 9/25 issue).

McAllister Feels Game Will Provide
Brief Respite For Football Fans
GAME A BREAK FROM NORMAL LIFE: In New Orleans, Jimmy Smith writes the game “provides a welcome respite from the often depressing grind of everyday life for those who call this area home.” Saints QB Drew Brees said, “I think a lot of people will see from the broadcast that, hey, this city is very much alive” (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 9/25). Saints RB Deuce McAllister said, “Instead of (people) wondering are they going to continue to haggle with their insurance people, are they going to have to continue to work on their home, for three hours they can go and cheer for their Saints” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/25). In Massachusetts, Albert Breer writes, “Tonight is a time to put [rebuilding efforts] on the back burner for a few hours. And celebrate some of the progress that’s already been made” (METROWEST DAILY NEWS, 9/25). Roedel said, “The general feeling is that if sports and entertainment can make a comeback, the rest of the community can as well. It’s difficult to just focus on sports and entertainment because the damage is so much bigger than that, but it gives people something to rally around” (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 9/24). Thornton: “If you can rebuild a 2-million-square-foot facility, there’s hope for our neighborhoods and for our city” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/25).

SENDING A MESSAGE: Tony Kornheiser, who will broadcast the game tonight on ESPN, toured New Orleans Friday with several reporters and editors from the Times-Picayune. Kornheiser writes, “When I told my guides that, instead of a football game, everyone should be focusing on building houses, repatriating people and making sure they could come back here to live, they politely set me straight. ... This game means a tremendous amount to them. ... The building sends a powerful message of a positive sort –- come here as a tourist” (WASHINGTON POST, 9/25). Historian Douglas Brinkley, who wrote “The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” said, “We have two industries -– ports and tourism. That’s been the justification for going forward with Mardi Gras and fixing the Superdome -– that we have to revive those industries or the city won’t survive.” In Houston, David Barron writes the Superdome “serves as a gleaming symbol of the possibilities of a rebuilt New Orleans” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/25).

SYMBOL OF SURVIVAL: In DC, Les Carpenter wrote the Superdome’s reopening is “the seminal event in the city’s recovery, a gesture that New Orleans might survive after all.” Local businesses have been asked to close at 3:00pm CT, and workers are encouraged to wear Saints colors (WASHINGTON POST, 9/24). In Atlanta, Steve Hummer: “This is the moment meant to show the world New Orleans has a pulse again” (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 9/24). In Chicago, Don Pierson: “The Superdome has become a symbol of government success and civic rebirth” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/24). In California, Cam Inman: “Tonight’s unveiling ... might be the most remarkable achievement in the Superdome’s history” (CONTRA COSTA TIMES, 9/25). Fox’ Terry Bradshaw, who is from Shreveport, said, “I can’t be more proud of a city, or even Mr. Benson, the owner. ... Right now, we’ve got something to live for, something to look forward to.” Fox’ Joe Buck added, “I know I speak on behalf of all of us, though, when I say $185(M) spent on refurbishing the (Superdome), we hope the same type of effort and that same type of money, even obviously millions more, will be spent on bringing people back into their homes in that region” (“Fox NFL Sunday,” Fox, 9/24).

Thornton Says He Has Had Talks With
NCAA, NFL About Hosting Marquee Events
LONG ROAD AHEAD: New Orleans-based Columbus Properties President & CEO Joe Canizaro said, “It’s going to take 10 years if it takes a day to get us back to where we were. But we have to start somewhere, and this night is that start” (SPORTING NEWS, 9/29 issue). Former Saints QB and New Orleans resident Archie Manning said, “Long-term, I worry. ... I just hope we can keep up the momentum. It’s going to take a lot” (NEWSDAY, 9/24). But Thornton said, “It’s a bright future. We’ve already had conversations with the NCAA and with the NFL (about hosting their jewel events). The Super Bowl situation is totally dependent upon a long-term lease with the Saints. And they are going to play a collegiate national championship here in 2008” (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 9/24).

NOT ENOUGH ATTENTION ELSEWHERE: In L.A., Sam Farmer writes in a front-page piece that “not everyone agrees that rebuilding the football stadium should have been a top priority.” New Orleans resident Karenlynn Bell said, “I don’t want to set foot in there, even for a game. It’s more for the tourists, more for the people on the West Side. The evacuees ... you don’t hear them excited” (L.A. TIMES, 9/25). New Orleans resident Dee Jabar, who is $120,000 in debt after reopening his business, said the city “should be busy worrying about how to survive and rebuild rather than about a team that earns millions of dollars” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/24). New Orleans resident Harrison Smothers said, “It’s a football game. It’s not doing much for the people of the city. It might do something for the politicians” (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 9/24). In Westchester, Ian O’Connor wrote, “I’ve covered the Super Bowl, the Final Four, and the national championship football game in the Superdome, and I’ll never be able to look at the stadium as anything but a hiding place for Hurricane Katrina victims. ... Just understand that this is show business, and that nothing on your TV screen [tonight] makes the disaster any less epic, or our government’s embarrassingly slow reaction to it any less real” (Westchester JOURNAL NEWS, 9/24).

Writer Believes Tagliabue’s (c) Handling
Of Situation Could Be Crowning Moment
IMPORTANT FIGURES: The TIMES-PICAYUNE’s Duncan wrote Thornton, Roedel and Superdome Commission Chair Tim Coulon “in essence ... saved pro sports in New Orleans. ... And they did it pretty much on their own, under the radar, while a crippled city was still on its knees.” Roedel “plotted legal strategy and navigated the mountains of paperwork,” while Coulon “served as the liaison between the LSED team and Baton Rouge, communicating daily with [Louisiana Gov. Kathleen] Blanco, the LSED board of commissioners and state legislators.” Meanwhile, Thornton “negotiated the $20[M] grant from the NFL toward the Superdome renovation and spearheaded the agreement that landed the 2008 NBA All-Star Game for the city.” NBA President of League & Basketball Operations Joel Litvin said, “Doug was easily the most important person in the whole process. He was the go-to guy on every single issue, and he delivered on everything he promised” (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 9/24). Thornton is featured in an extensive piece by CBS SPORTSLINE.com’s Mike Freeman under the header, “One Man’s Heroics Helped Save City, Superdome” (CBS SPORTSLINE.com, 9/20). Thornton also was profiled on CBS’ “The Early Show” Saturday (THE DAILY).

NFL’S ROLE: In a separate piece, the TIMES-PICAYUNE’s Duncan wrote former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue’s handling of the situation “will rank as one of the biggest accomplishments of his 17-year tenure.” Thornton said of Tagliabue, who will attend the game tonight, “His leadership and decision-making certainly had a huge impact on where we are today. We couldn’t have accomplished what we did without the NFL” (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 9/24). A TIMES-PICAYUNE editorial stated the city had “much-appreciated help” from Thornton, Tagliabue and current NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Also, Saints Owner Tom Benson’s “statements about the Saints’ future in New Orleans gave fans hope” (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 9/24).

LENDING A HELPING HAND: In New Orleans, Benjamin Hochman reported Saturday’s “NFL Junior Player Development Homecoming Jamboree” was one of several events “that brought together corporations and volunteers to clean the city and raise awareness.” At the event, the Saints welcomed 75 youth athletes from New Orleans and 75 from Atlanta, which included some New Orleans evacuees, “to play football and clean the playground.” TNT’s Kenny Smith also hosted several charitable events that included visits from Hornets G Chris Paul, Warriors G Baron Davis, Heat C Alonzo Mourning, Nuggets F Kenyon Martin and Bulls G Ben Gordon (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 9/24).

A NEW MORNING: ABC’s “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts was live at the Superdome during this morning’s show. In addition to a report on the reopening, segments from the venue included a profile of Thornton and a taped interview with U2’s The Edge and Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong. CBS’ “The Early Show” and NBC’s “Today” also reported on the Superdome this morning (THE DAILY).

Jeremy Shockey Claims NY Giants Were Outcoached By Seahawks

I disagree with Jeremy on the role of the coach. I don't think the coach has to call the play. There was a time when NFL quarterbacks were expected to call plays and know the system. I think a middle ground should be established in any organization's system. This was also not the first time such a comment was made about Tom Coughlin's system. It seems to me that -- to be blunt -- the Giants staff doesn't have a good set of contengency plans in case the opponent comes into a game with an approach they did't use before.

Shockey criticizes Coughlin after Giants' loss
NFL.com wire reports

SEATTLE (Sept. 24, 2006) -- Jeremy Shockey is at it again.

New York's volatile tight end criticized coach Tom Coughlin after the Giants fell behind by 35 points early before losing to Seattle 42-30.

"We got outplayed, and outcoached. Write that down," Shockey said.

Asked what he meant by outcoached, Shockey said, "You saw the game."

It was reminiscent of comments made by running back Tiki Barber after the Giants' wild-card game loss to Carolina last season. Barber said after the game that the Giants were outcoached by Carolina's John Fox, a former Giants defensive coordinator.

Coughlin was practically shouting from a podium after the game. Sweat was running down his face at the thought of Eli Manning 's two first-quarter interceptions, a lost fumble and a 35-0 first-half hole that was the largest in New York's 82-year history.

"We just gave the game away," Coughlin said. "A team that does nothing but preach and talk about turnovers, we turn it over like nothing matters, nothing counts. It cost us the game."

"We started the game and lost our composure again up front and had a couple of foolish penalties ... We had what we thought was a good game plan together. And obviously we didn't execute."

Shockey, who had four catches for 58 yards, stewed in the locker room by himself before being told of Coughlin's comments.

"They were in different defenses than we thought they were going to be in. They did different things that we haven't seen," he said. "You can make adjustments all you want, but when they do new things and they switch things up, you really can't do anything."

Shockey pointed out how well Manning played on New York's final scoring drive. Manning exclusively used the no-huddle offense to move 94 yards, a drive that ended with his 9-yard touchdown to David Tyree.

Manning thrived in the no-huddle to rally past the Eagles last weekend. Against Seattle, Manning was 2 of 7 for minus-1 yards and the two interceptions in a conventional offense during an awful first quarter, when Seattle led 21-0. He was 20 for 26 for 238 yards after that.

Someone asked tackle Luke Petitgout if it mattered that his team rallied for 27 points late.

"No," Petitgout said flatly.

Shockey, seated next to Petitgout, said "I think it does."

"I think when Eli gets to call his plays, get his formations, I think we play better football, when he gets to decide a little bit more than just the set play and then you get to go for it," Shockey said. "But you can't play always in a no-huddle situation."

Why not?

"You've got to go by their plays," Shockey said. "They're the coaches. They get paid money. They call the plays. Every coach out there is trying to help everybody to move the ball and help his team win. You can't just go out of no-huddle all the time."

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