NEW ORLEANS -- With the city poised to host its tenth Super Bowl, the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is the gateway to the game.
And after $300 million of investment, officials are touting it as one of signature changes to area infrastructure.
“You are sitting now in one of the major pieces of major renovations that have taken place all over the city of New Orleans,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
It’s a scaled down version of an original $700 million plan that was scrapped in order to get the most done in time for the Super Bowl.
“We have stepped back. The things that were design and construction that would get us ready for the Super Bowl—we did those,” said Iftikhar Ahmad, director of aviation at the airport.
The changes encompass everything from new seating and lighting to upgraded check-in counters and baggage claim area.
There are also new concessions, which include iconic New Orleans names, like Dooky Chase. It’s one of eight new eateries at the airport, a $5.5 million investment in food options.
“It didn’t make sense to go out to another community or get a national brand, when the streets of New Orleans are filled with great restaurants that we could bring here and give the airport really a local feel,” said Matt King of Delaware North Companies.
But as city and airport officials celebrate what is done, more changes for the airport will come under scrutiny at the end of March.
That’s when airport officials say they will present the mayor with a long-term plan for the airport that could include a new terminal in time for the city’s 300th anniversary in 2018.
“It could be the north terminal, it could be working up here on the existing site,” Ahmad said. “We want to lay out what would be the business strategy here at the airport and what are the facilities that come with, that will come with it."
One thing that isn’t quite done yet is the new separate rental car facility here at the airport. We are told it will be ready in time for the Super Bowl. It’s set to open on Jan. 23.