Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
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NEWORLEANS-- This year's Allstate Sugar Bowl opponents arrived in New Orleans on Friday.

The Oklahoma Sooners got a traditional Dixieland band welcome at Armstrong International. The Alabama Crimson Tide filtered into town earlier in the day.

Sugar Bowl organizers say it's a strong match-up with regional appeal.

'We're very close to a sell out right now, which is over 72,000 here in the (Mercedes-Benz Super)dome,' said Sugar Bowl CEO Jeff Hundley. 'We're excited that both fans seem to be enthusiastic about coming here. When they're enthusiastic, they spend more money.'

Hundley says right now most of the downtown hotels are nearly booked up for the three days surrounding the Jan. 2 game.

'We're predicting somewhere in the range of $150 million in economic impact for the city and state,' said Hundley. 'While the two schools are in town, it will be a lot of tax benefits for the city and state as well.'

Both head coaches say the Superdome is a special place to play. Nick Saban won national championships there with LSU and Alabama.

'This is the fifth Sugar Bowl that we've personally been to and our third at Alabama and we've always been treated first class by the city of New Orleans, the people on Allstate Sugar Bowl, the committee,' said Saban.

Bob Stoops lost a championship in the Dome to Saban's LSU squad in 2003, but he also tasted victory there with the University of Florida.

'I was here in 1996 with Florida and Coach (Steve) Spurrier and had an amazing experience beating Florida State and winning the national championship,' said Stoops.

Both coaches say their players will have time to enjoy New Orleans, but for the next week, it will be mostly business as their prepare for the Sugar Bowl.

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