Jay Cicero

Executives of the Year | CEO, Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation

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For 25 years it has been Jay Cicero’s job to bring the biggest games in sports to New Orleans. This year, however, he personally was at the top of his game.

Cicero was the 2022 winner of the Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award presented by the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame on June 25.

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While quickly noting the award was “not for athletic achievement,” he called it “a humbling and huge honor.”

In 2022, amidst unprecedented challenges, he also brought the 2022 NCAA Men’s Final Four to New Orleans.

“Along with our partners Tulane and UNO, we put on a magnificent Final Four in very challenging times,” Cicero recalled. “People weren’t traveling, the city was still in COVID restrictions less than a month before. But we had a $100 million impact and proclaimed that the city was back.”

Cicero is always looking to the next big thing, which includes when New Orleans will host its next Super Bowl in 2025.

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“We are constantly working to attract events large and small that have either a large economic impact, positive media exposure, or both,” he explained. “The media exposure significantly raises the profile of New Orleans and Louisiana, and that’s extremely important when it comes to attracting other tourism business.”

The value of this publicity cannot be quantified, but more tangibly, studies indicate that a Super Bowl has an economic impact of some $400 million in direct and indirect spending and tax revenue. In its 34 years of existence, events hosted by the Sports Foundation and its partners are estimated to have had a total $3.5 billion impact.

Putting on a Super Bowl takes years of work; Cicero is already lining up sponsors and other financial support to meet the commitments made to the NFL. It all comes to a head as game day approaches, with approximately 6,000 volunteers involved.

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“We recruit and assign all the volunteer positions,” Cicero said. “We train them, feed them, park them, move them around, manage them while they are on site.”

Other events hosted by the Sports Foundation range from the R&L Carriers Bowl game to the SEC gymnastics championship.

Reflecting again on the past year’s NCAA Men’s Final Four, Cicero said the event sent a very positive message to the world about New Orleans.

“We were the perfect city at the right time.”


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