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In New Orleans, Saints vs. candidates

A New Orleans Saints helmet is seen during the NFC Head Coach Press Conference held at the Greater Ft. Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center as part of media week for Super Bowl XLIV in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

KAI RYSSDAL: Yes, there's a football game the citizens of New Orleans are going to be paying attention to on Sunday. But in the shadows of the Super Bowl, there is a small matter of city governance to attend to: New Orleans is about to get its first new mayor since 2002. Saturday is election day. And in a city where the economy is still trying to get back to life pre-Katrina, you'd figure that'd be a pretty big deal. It would -- any other time.

David Hammer's on the line. He covers city hall for the Times-Picayune down there. David, it's good to have you with us.

David Hammer: Great to be here, Kai.

Ryssdal: So, listen, you are a die-hard Saints fan. You are also a city hall reporter, which means you're a die-hard politics fan. What are you going to be doing on election day?

Hammer: Well, strange story. I'm actually going to be going to Miami, to try to get a ticket to the game, without one in hand. It's a last-minute change of plans. I have an opportunity and the paper was nice enough to let me give it a shot.

Ryssdal: So you're a politics guy, and yet you're not going to vote.

Hammer: Unfortunately, it worked out strangely and no, I'm not.

Ryssdal: Talk to me about the effect of this game on the city of New Orleans. I mean, it is still trying to come back from Hurricane Katrina. And yet, the mayoral election, which will affect the future of the city a good deal more you'd think, is kind of getting buried.

Hammer: Yeah, it is. And it's unbelievable the impact that the Saints have had on the city. I mean, from an economic standpoint, there's just an unbelievable amount of money in the local market being poured into Saints merchandise. The attention of every New Orleanean and everybody in the area on TV is to Saints coverage.

Unbelievable stat that I heard was that the NFL said that the highest local rating it got for the Pro Bowl was in New Orleans, and there was no Saints playing in the game. And people are just so tuned into the NFL right now and what the best thing that the mayoral candidates can hope is that people's high attention on local media coverage of the Saints will kind of trickle into their radio and television ads and hopefully get them some exposure here.

Ryssdal: Yeah. What's the better bet though, David? Saints over the Colts or some kind of decisive victory in Louisiana-New Orleans politics?

Hammer: I'm going to go out on a limb and say Saints over Colts. But I think there's a very good chance that there could be no need for a runoff here. It's going to be very, very tight, all the polls indicate. But Mitch Landrieu, the lieutenant governor, is within clear striking distance of finishing this.

Ryssdal: Obviously, the Who Dat Nation down there likes the Saints, but is there a glimmer of reality that Peyton Manning's going to be tough to beat?

Hammer: Yeah, I mean, he's a local boy and we know him well and a lot of people like him. But I think there's a feeling that the national media has it wrong. They're focusing way too much on the Colts, and we know the real deal down here. We know the Saints are going to pull it out.

Ryssdal: Well, keep your fingers crossed. And I hope you get a ticket. You're going down there without one, yeah?

Hammer: I am absolutely doing it. And I'm on a very tight budget is the other problem. But I'm going to do what needs to be done, let's put it that way.

Ryssdal: David Hammer covers city hall for the New Orleans Times-Picayune. David, have yourself a good trip.

Hammer: Who Dat.

Ryssdal: See ya, man. Bye-bye.

Hammer: All right, thanks.

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