Week in Review, Oct. 12-16: Much Ado About Phase 3.2
NEW ORLEANS – Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced that New Orleans will move into Phase 3.2 of its pandemic restrictions on Saturday, Oct. 17. The move will further ease rules on audience size, bars and breweries and live entertainment. The biggest news is that live music will be allowed again – but with a few major caveats: no singing or playing of brass or wind instruments will be allowed inside. On the plus side, karaoke is also banned. …
In a well-timed move, destination marketing organization New Orleans & Company announced details of three new tourism promotional plans. The Fall Road Trip campaign and COOLinary Encore are designed to stimulate local business for restaurants, hotels and attractions in the months of October and November. Then, in December, Holidays New Orleans Style will encourage family fun and holiday excursions to the city. “Tourism is responsible for driving $10.5 billion that churns through our economy creating 100,000 jobs and 43% of the city’s operating budget,” said Stephen Perry, New Orleans & Company president and CEO. “As the hospitality industry goes, so goes the city of New Orleans.”
Speaking of attracting visitors, cheers could be heard around the city after news broke that New Orleans is confirmed to host the 2025 Super Bowl after NFL owners voted this week to approve the plan. New Orleans was originally scheduled to host the big game in 2024, but then the league decided to lengthen its season by one additional game starting next year. This change effectively pushed the New Orleans Super Bowl date back one week and created an overlap with the second weekend of Mardi Gras. “We all know that it’s logistically impossible to host a Mardi Gras and anything else at the same time, but Mardi Gras and the Super Bowl was definitely impossible,” said Jay Cicero of the New Orleans Sports Foundation, the nonprofit that attracts and manages mega sports events.
Meanwhile, the Mayor’s standoff with the Saints continued over the city’s refusal to allow fans in the Superdome. The Saints’ latest move? Announcing discussions with LSU about the possibility of moving some Saints games to Tigers stadium in Baton Rouge. “LSU has been gracious and enthusiastic regarding hosting our future games and we very much appreciate their partnership,” said Greg Bensel, the Saints’ senior vice president for communications. “We have also discussed the possibility of moving our home games to LSU with the NFL and they are aware of our exploring this option. Obviously, our overwhelming preference is to play our games in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with partial fan attendance, but there has been no indication from the city on when, or if, this might be approved.”
Big News and Debuts
Universal Music Group and Dakia U-Ventures will build one of three UMUSIC Hotels in Biloxi, Miss. “Every destination holds a great story just waiting to be told through its cultural heritage and its music,” said Robert Lavia, Dakia chairman. “Through this new concept, we will both help people discover new ways to channel their love for music and the arts and help empower the transformation of communities worldwide through cultural, inspirational, creative and conscious collaboration.” The massive casino resort project is expected to cost more than $1.2 billion – or roughly the equivalent of the new New Orleans airport terminal.
The Ochsner Community Health Brees Family Center is now open and serving patients at 5950 Bullard Avenue in New Orleans East. Designed to deliver primary and specialty care to underserved communities with the goal of promoting health equity for all, the new facility served more than 20 primary care patients within its first two days of opening. Ochsner has committed more than $10 million to open and operate this site with support from Brittany and Drew Brees and their Brees Dream Foundation. The newly constructed facility on Bullard Avenue is approximately 9500 square feet and features 17 exam rooms. Onsite services include primary care as well as cardiology, diabetes management, podiatry and smoking cessation.
O’Connor Capital Partners, owner and manager of Canal Place shopping mall, announced that the Prytania Theatre will take over operation of the former home of Cinebarre Canal Place. “We are very excited to welcome the Prytania Theatres at Canal Place,” said Lisa Manzella, the mall’s general manager. “Both institutions have a long standing heritage of serving New Orleans residents and visitors, and we are thrilled to now have the Prytania as part of Canal Place. We couldn’t have asked for a better partner to bring our theatre back to life, and look forward to the stellar programming they will bring to this downtown location.”
People on the Move
Commander’s Palace announced that Megan “Meg” Bickford will take over as executive chef at the iconic New Orleans restaurant. With over 12 years of experience with the Commander’s Family of Restaurants, Bickford started at Commander’s in 2008 and previously served as the executive chef of modern Creole restaurant Cafe Adelaide. Bickford takes over the kitchen from chef Tory McPhail, who served as executive chef for 18 years. McPhail is trading in his Commander’s toque to move closer to family in Bozeman, Mont. where he will be leading the culinary career development for a restaurant group there.
Airport Experience News has named Kevin Dolliole, director of aviation at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, as its 2020 Director of the Year in the medium airports category. “We are excited to see the rest of the nation come to appreciate what we in New Orleans have known for years: Kevin Dolliole is a national treasure for his work to make Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport the crown jewel of the Gulf South,” said New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “His tireless efforts to realize the dream that is the new airport terminal and his steadfast stewardship through the COVID-19 pandemic are just the recent example of four decades of aviation leadership.”
Early Voting Begins
Louisiana’s early voting period for the Nov. 3 presidential and congressional election opened Friday, with a federal judge forcing the state to add a few extra days and longer hours because of the coronavirus pandemic. Top of the ballot is the presidential contest between Republican incumbent Donald Trump and Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden. Louisiana’s eight electoral votes are up for grabs.