Tonight, the New Orleans Saints are back in the refurbished Superdome for the first time since Katrina. And as both a football fan and a travel enthusiast with many cherished memories of New Orleans, I am glad the Dome is reopened.
Between the goal lines, though, it is a BFD- Big Football Deal.
But as to all this political and media spin that will be spun about the Superdome's re-opening as a rebirth and a healing, well, bullshit.
What does the Superdome being open mean? Well, millionaire football players have a place to romp and stomp. And when they leave, they will go back to their pricey homes. Some of the homes had been damaged, true, but this is not a demographic that had to live with their aunt in Houston because they couldn't afford to rebuild or rehab their dwelling.
And yes, the skyboxes are open for the rich corporations. A few bartenders - some of whom hail from the city -are in for a season of good tips. And the concession stand workers and ticket takers have jobs again. For eight days over the next few months.
There will be an uptick in tourism, yes. But when you add up all these factors, the tangible effect of the Superdome's opening on this racially divided, economically cleaved, critically wounded city is nil.
The public schools are still a mess. Large segments of the population are economically disadvantaged, and unprepared for the 21st century economy. Whole neighborhoods are still uninhabitable, and are prone to further flooding from the next storm to be fueled by Global warming and a mean wind. Drug dealers and gangs rule many of the side streets. Some employers are out of business, or relocated to other cities.
Don't misunderstand me. I'm glad the Superdome is open. And as a journalist who has covered the hotel industry for 19 years, I do recognize there will be some benefits.
But to call the reopening of the Superdome, a renaissance is elitist, arrogant and utterly insensitive. This is a city that was already deeply troubled before the storm hit, and no Superdome sellout crowd is going to fix things.