SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Shreveport city officials on Thursday morning touted this weekend’s matchup between Grambling State University and Southern University for the Bayou Classic as “much bigger than football,” touting the economic impact of the first major event in the city since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year.
“The Bayou Classic coming to North Louisiana is a huge step as we work to rebuild our economy,” Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins said during a news conference in which organizers promoted plans for the Port City Fest planned in conjunction with the football game, which will include a slate of live entertainment at Festival Plaza with a Party on the Red and a COVID-19 management plan.
Back in Shreveport for the first time in nearly 50 years, the Bayou Classic is expected to bring thousands of visitors as the Grambling Tigers take on the Southern Jaguars. Local hotels are “mainly” sold out Thursday through Sunday, according to Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau President Stacy Brown.
The weekend’s events are expected to draw $2.8 million in direct economic impact and an indirect economic impact totaling $4 million.
Organizers also touched on COVID-19 safety measures that will be taken this weekend to guarantee a safe environment for football fans and their families in town for the events.
The game will take place at Independence Stadium, which will be limited to 30% capacity due to COVID-19 precautions. Masking will be required at the game and at all official Port City Fest activities, including events at Festival Plaza, with temperature checks on entry and “COVID pod” seating.
Shreveport police say they are stepping up law enforcement presence in the city in anticipation of the crowds, bringing in additional officers from neighboring law enforcement agencies and patrolling the city on motorcycles and horses.
The 47th annual matchup between Grambling State University and Southern University is set for kickoff at 1:30 p.m Saturday, April 17 at Independence Stadium in Shreveport.
It was initially postponed to the spring of 2021 after SWAC announced the postponement of football in July 2020 due to the pandemic and later moved to Shreveport because of renovation work at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The last time the game was played in Shreveport was in 1973. Grambling won 19-14. It was moved to New Orleans the next year and became the Bayou Classic. The last time the Bayou Classic was not played in New Orleans was in 2005, due to Hurricane Katrina.
Southern won last year’s Bayou Classic 30-28.
This year’s game will be televised on NBC Sports Network, putting Shreveport-Bossier in front of a national audience.