SHREVEPORT, La. -- One month before kickoff, the city council huddled in a special meeting to swiftly advance Mayor Adrian Perkins' resolution. It would allow the city to enter into a cooperative agreement with NOCCI, Inc. That's the group that operates the Bayou Classic football game between Grambling State and Southern University.
Part of that agreement means a financial contribution from the city. But Perkins does not yet know the amount.
"Right now I can just tell you a lot of public entities have contributed to the pot. And we're finalizing that budget to make sure we're spending these dollars responsibly so that we have the best weekend possible," Perkins said.
Perkins believes funding would come from money already budgeted for economic development. The city council will vote on the resolution at its regular meeting on Tuesday, March 23.
For its part, the Caddo Parish Commission is considering supporting the event with $50,000.
The football game and events surrounding it are expected to pass $2 million into the Shreveport-Bossier economy. Tourism officials have said area hotel rooms are getting booked up.
That's even though that under Phase 3 of reopening from COVID-19 in Louisiana, Independence stadium can only be half full for the game. That means about 25,000 tickets can be sold.
A check of Ticketmaster on Wednesday showed that just about 750 tickets are left. They start at about $40.
Phase 3 goes until the end of this month. Perkins hopes Governor John Bel Edwards will then reopen Louisiana further to allow more fans.
"If things continue to go well, if we social distance, if we wear a mask, then maybe we can even get a larger bump and get even more fans in. But our priority now is to make sure we keep people safe while giving them a fun weekend," Perkins says.
The Bayou Classic is not only the biggest rivalry game in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. It's also normally a showcase for the great marching bands from each school. But the SWAC has banned bands from traveling to games this spring because of coronavirus concerns.
Perkins says you still may be able to enjoy the bands in Shreveport.
"We're trying to see if we can do some other things to get them involved for the weekend. But we're working on that. And we'll be putting that information out," Perkins hinted.
Shreveport is also hosting Port City Fest beginning on Thursday, April 15, leading up to the game on Saturday. It includes a downtown festival, Party On The Red, all three days.
Classic Expo, a black-owned business and education expo, will also run all three days at the convention center. Perkins hosts a benefit golf tournament at Querbes Golf Course on Friday morning. And there's also a Fan Fest at the stadium before the game Saturday.
The Bayou Classic came to Shreveport because of ongoing coronavirus concerns in New Orleans, where the game is normally played in the Superdome. SWAC delayed its fall 2020 football season until this spring. It recently kicked off.
The Bayou Classic returns to its traditional spot in the Superdome in November for the fall football season.