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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Tonight the New Orleans Saints return to the Superdome to take on the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football. But as Rachel Dornhelm reports from the Big Easy, this is about much more than a game.


RACHEL DORNHELM: Heavenly. That's how the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau's Mary Beth Romig describes the Saints' homecoming.

With an undefeated team opening a newly-remodeled Superdome, Romig says hotel occupancy in the city is expected to hit to 85 percent tonight. That's better than Mardi Gras numbers.

A similar draw may be in store for the Saint's remaining home games. Season tickets have sold out for the first time in team history.

MARY BETH ROMIG: The Saint's ticket office is reporting is a very large regional support for those tickets, so folks are coming in from Houston, Baton Rouge, North Louisiana and Mississippi.

And Romig says the value of the positive publicity from tonight's game is invaluable. 1,000 press credentials have been issued. She says that matches the media presence for Katrina's one-year anniversary.

I'm Rachel Dornhelm for Marketplace.