New Orleans Feature
New Orleans Sports: Saints and Stingers
For a city that loves to play, New Orleans was never considered much of a professional sports town. Season after season of disappointing scores had even earned the New Orleans NFL team the pitiful nickname "The Aints." But things changed in the last few years, when two of the city's pro teams saw unprecedented success. The victories represented comeback—not just for the teams, but for the entire city.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints went marching in to victory in Miami in 2010 when they became Super Bowl champions for the first time, and the win meant more than just a football championship. Throughout the winning season—which opened with 13 wins in a row—New Orleans was abuzz and united with Saints spirit like never before. The New Orleans Saints Super Bowl XLIV victory parade, which fell just a week before Mardi Gras, drew 800,000 people. It was the largest parade crowd some locals claim they've ever seen, which is truly impressive for America's party city.
Today, despite an ethics scandal that has rocked the NFL, Saints fever continues unabated. Fans are as enthusiastic as ever, and celebrate in Champions Square, just outside the rechristened Mercedes-Benz Superdome, a hot spot for pre- and postgame partying. Whether you're at the Dome or watching the Saints on TV, keep an eye out for some of the Saints' most famous fans: Halo Saint, who wears a gold Transformer-esque getup; Da Pope, dressed as the pontiff himself; Whistle Monsta, in black-and-gold face paint, Saints uniform, and a giant gold whistle atop his helmet; and Voodoo Man, sporting a tux jacket, top hat, and ghostly face paint.
Where they play: Mercedes-Benz Superdome (Sugar Bowl Dr., CBD)
How to buy tickets: With a wish and a prayer, or at least your fingers crossed. Individual tickets are technically not for sale—the Saints have been sold out on season tickets alone since 2006. Your best bet is the NFL Ticket Exchange (www.nfl.com).
Famous players, past and present: Drew Brees, Rickey Jackson, Archie Manning
Past highlights: Won Super Bowl XLIV in 2010; made playoffs in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans, who from 2002 through 2012 kept the “Hornets” moniker they arrived with from Charlotte, have seen mixed results over the years. Hurricane Katrina sent the team to Oklahoma City in 2005–2007, but they returned to New Orleans for the 2007–2008 season and the team made the NBA playoffs that season and the next. After a less successful 2009–2010 season, the team made it back to the playoffs in spring 2011. A disappointing 2012 season followed, but with a new owner (Tom Benson, the colorful owner of the Saints) and the new team name, there is renewed enthusiasm for this young team, which plays in the newly renamed Smoothie King Arena.
Where they play: New Orleans Arena (1501 Girod St., CBD)
How to buy tickets: Ticket office (504/525–HOOP www.nba.com/hornets)
Past highlights: Making the NBA playoffs in 2008, 2009, and 2011
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