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February 4, 2013

Sights & sounds from New Orleans

Tom Szczepanski, 29, of Chico, made his support of the 49ers known Sunday by dressing up as one. Not a football player – a miner.



Wearing his emotions

Tom Szczepanski, 29, of Chico, made his support of the 49ers known Sunday by dressing up as one. Not a football player – a miner.

He wore a plaid shirt, suspenders, khaki pants and a floppy brown hat with the front bill flipped up – a thrift store cowboy hat, he said, on which he "did a little bit of arts and crafts."

Szczepanski and his twin Mike said there was no question that they would follow the 49ers to New Orleans.

"NaVorro Bowman slapped the ball away (to secure the NFC Championship Game) and I was buying plane tickets," Tom said.

Mike Szczepanski went more modern with a white-collared shirt and 49ers vest. On his right hand he wore five rings to reflect the 49ers' five Super Bowl wins. He had another in his shirt pocket.

Said Mike: "I'm going to put that on at the end of the game."

And their plans after the game were, well, flexible.

Said Tom: "We don't even have a place to stay tonight."

– Matt Kawahara

In his dreams

Four hours before kickoff, Jay Arthur was outside the Superdome wearing a Redskins hat, a Ravens jersey and a handwritten sign around his neck that said, "I need 1 ticket for a birthday miracle."

"Big Grateful Dead fan from back in the day," Arthur said. "Sometimes you throw one of these on and you never know what's going to happen."

Arthur said he's from Virginia, in New Orleans for work, and that today is his 47th birthday. When a man told Arthur he had a ticket for sale, Arthur smiled back and said, "Probably not for a miracle, though."

"Couple hundred dollars," Arthur said, when asked how much he'd be willing to pay for a ticket. "If I can get in, great. If not, there's a lot of enjoyable stuff out here."

– Matt Kawahara

Heart of the city

For New Orleans, hosting its first Super Bowl since 2002 and post-Hurricane Katrina, timing was a boon. This week fell smack in the middle of carnival season, in which parades began Jan. 19 and end with Mardi Gras on Feb. 12.

Mark Romig, spokesman for the New Orleans Super Bowl Host Committee, said hosting the Super Bowl will have an estimated $432 million boost on the region, including both direct and indirect spending. Mardi Gras alone brought in $238 million in 2011, the last year a study was made, Romig said.

"Add that to what we're getting here with the Super Bowl and there you have about a $700 million impact over a three-week period," Romig said. "That's unheard of."

– Matt Kawahara

Chew on this

The concession stands featured the usual array of arena/stadium fare of hot dogs, popcorn, pretzels, nachos, sodas, etc., but for $12 folks also could purchase an "Alligator Sausage Poboy." The dish resembles a hot dog on a bun, but, yes, it truly is made from alligator.

– Ailene Voisin

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