NEW ORLEANS (BRPROUD) – The annual matchup known as the Bayou Classic is just days away.
Monday’s press conference kicks off a long week of events leading up to Sunday’s big game with Southern University and Grambling State for the 49th Annual Bayou Classic.
At the conference, coaches, faculty, and New Orleans community leaders explain what it truly means to host one of the largest Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) events.
The battle of the bands, parades, food, music, and of course the football game, are major components of the Bayou Classic that showcase Black excellence and highlight the impact of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
“Both institutions give our students (the opportunity) to be celebrated for being unique, for being amazing, for being great,” said Rick Gallot, president of Grambling State University.
Leaders of both Southern University and Grambling State University say it’s more than just a football game. Families have an emotional connection to this event.
“When you talk with alumni they actually really feel that their success is closely tied to the institution. They come back, and they support the current students,” said Dennis Shields, president of Southern University.
There are many words that describe what this celebration truly means: legacy, lineage, history, and tradition to name a few.
In the words of Gallot, it’s the”Superbowl of HBCUs.”
“It shows not only the stability of the two institutions but being able to highlight our students on a world stage. You know? And not every school has the opportunity to do that,” said Gallot.
In addition to the culture, Davon Barbour, CEO of the New Orleans Downtown Development District, says the Bayou Classic brings in millions of dollars each year.
“We are a city that’s built to host. And so having 250,000 people flocking to our city is a significant economic generator,” said Barbour.
Though America is experiencing inflation-related financial hardship, Barbour says the city is still expecting a big turnout. He says, according to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), most people are still planning to travel and spend money during the upcoming holiday season.
“There’s just so much love for Grambling State as well as Southern University. Certainly, inflation remains a concern for many consumers. But we believe that Downtown New Orleans will be an attractive location for many of these guests,” said Barbour.
Shields says all eyes will be on this game. People travel from all over the country to attend. The game even brings in worldwide viewers via streaming services.
The president of Grambling says the relationship between the Tigers and Jaguars is closer than it’s ever been.
Come Saturday, the stadium will be filled with thousands of fans eager to watch one of the biggest HBCU football games of the year, the battle of the bands, and so much more.