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Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wembley Stadium to have New Orleans feel

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

WATFORD, England -- Saints executive vice president Rita Benson LeBlanc, the daughter of owner Tom Benson, said there will be a New Orleans feel to Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

The game with San Diego, after all, technically is a "home'' game for the Saints. They'll try to take advantage of that and boost the profile of New Orleans and the NFL.

"The exterior of Wembley Stadium itself is going to have all the manner of fan festival, the lights, the spirit and all the musical elements as far as those things that are really true to New Orleans and our culture,'' LeBlanc said. "In fact, to help our economy back home, they're also using a New Orleans-based company that does that sort of production all over the world.

"They'll have a parade type element with a giant-sized football player at the front, which is very near and dear as far as Mardi Gras sentimentality for New Orleans. You'll get a feel for that.''

Although the Saints will have only seven games at the Superdome, LeBlanc said many fans from New Orleans have decided to plan vacations to London around the game.

"We have 4,000 to 5,000 season ticket holders and people that we've been in touch with that we expect to be coming over,'' LeBlanc said. "Our season-ticket holders and suite holders and sponsors had first priority first on tickets before they went out to the mass public. It's been exciting to see that many people travel. In New Orleans, we like to party and celebrate a little bit. You'll see some black and gold New Orleans fans running around London and having fun.''