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10 Cities Poised For Greatness In 2012

New Orleans
College kids and alumni don't need a whole lot of excuses to head to Bourbon Street and drink hurricanes and Abita like it's spring break, but championship games sure provide a convenient excuse.

New Orleans already welcomed Michigan and Virginia Tech fans for the Allstate (ALL) Sugar Bowl on Jan. 3 and hosted the BCS Championship Game between home-state LSU and SEC rival Alabama this week. The two events combined brought in more than 250,000 visitors and $500 million in economic impact.

That's just the pregame. Once it's swept away the championship confetti, New Orleans has to get itself a big, beignet-heavy breakfast and shake off the hangover in time for next month's Mardi Gras festivities. Hosting that party is no small task in any given year, but it's far tougher when the event's functioning as filler between the BCS Championship and college sports' other big-daddy event: the men's basketball Final Four.

The four best college hoops teams in the country and their rowdy fan bases crowd into town on March 31 and don't leave until April 2. Sure, the city has to play resident adviser to the most raucous remote campus in the country for a weekend, but it gets more than $100 million in business for its trouble.

That's a lot of revelry for a city that was nearly wiped out by Hurricane Katrina back in 2005, but even April doesn't bring it to an end. The party doesn't really end until the city goes pro and brings the NFL's Super Bowl back to the Superdome in 2013. Even seasoned seniors would have a tough time partying at this pace, but Mayor Mitch Landrieu is hoping the city's sports showcase events will bring in more than $1 billion in revenue by the time they're all over.

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