LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- The last time New Orleans hosted a Super Bowl was back in 2002, just a few months after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Since then a lot has happened, both in New Orleans and in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Eyewitness News took a closer look at then and now.

'The folks who haven't been here since the last Super Bowl and the folks that don't come on a regular basis are going to see a completely different building from the inside,' said SMG Executive Vice President Doug Thornton.

Like most nights the Mercedes-Benz Superdome glows bright. The LED lighting system is part of a $336 million mosaic of upgrades since Hurricane Katrina.

When the Ravens and 49ers face off on Sunday, Doug Thornton, who helps run the Superdome, says the Super Bowl climate will be different from when New Orleans last hosted the big game.

Eyewitness News archive video shows football fans being patted down and greeted by armed guards back in 2002. The heightened security was sparked by the Sept. 11 attacks.

'2002 was a much different situation. It was a national security special event mainly managed by the secret service. We were pressed into conforming with the security guidelines. I think what's happened since then is the NFL has put in a number of best practices they've learned since how to manage security,' said Thornton.

Besides a change in security protocol, Thornton says this time around fans can look forward to the NFL's tailgate party catering to 10,000 invited guests at the New Orleans Arena; 'NFL on Location,' another private party; and the addition of Champions Square, which will mean more ticket wielding football fans enjoying the big game on the Superdome's campus.

'It's a jewel. The engineering of the building was fantastic, so changes could be made to it and the state has done a terrific job of keeping it up to date,' said Bill Curl, who retired from the Superdome's public relations department. Curl, who helped orchestrate his fair share of Super Bowl games over the years, said the iconic facility has made leaps and bounds since 2002 -- and of course since Katrina.

'Massive changes have been made to the building in terms of recreating all the seating on the inside. Primarily on the lowest level of seating, better sideline seats, the suites have been improved,' said Curl.

New Orleans has hosted nine Super Bowls since 1970 and Sunday will mark the 10th.

To help make that happen, SMG says about 5,000 workers will be on the clock on gameday.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://www.wwltv.com/story/sports/nfl/2014/09/03/14571340/