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Major Events Incentive Program expansion advances

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(The Center Square) – The Louisiana House Committee on Appropriations approved a bill on Monday that would expand an incentive program to lure major events.

Senate Bill 404 by Sen. Patrick Connick, R-Marrero, would expand the Major Events Incentive Program, which was aimed at helping the state host the NFL’s Super Bowl, the NCAA College Football Playoff and other major sporting events to include soccer and rugby matches.

The committee approved the bill with scant debate.

The bill says the program would cover any “any event sanctioned by the international governing body of soccer, Federation Internationale de Football Association, the international governing body of rugby, World Rugby, the national governing body of soccer, U.S. Soccer, or the national governing body of rugby, USA Rugby.”

These would include World Cup matches, international friendly matches between national or pro teams, or tournaments pitting national and pro teams.

The bill passed the Senate 36-1 and is headed to the House floor.

Under the program, an event host, local organizing committee, endorsing municipality or parish, tourism commission or local convention or visitors bureau or a destination marketing organization can apply for a grant.

Previously, the incentive program only covered NFL and NCAA championship events, the NBA All-Star Game, a mixed martial arts title bout, a WWE Wrestlemania, an motorsports event such as a NASCAR race, an Olympic trial, the X Games and the World Games, among others.

The Louisiana Office of Tourism awards the funds and the amounts are based on the projected value of advertising and promotional expenses in addition to a projected increase to tax revenues in the event location.

Sixty days after the event, the lieutenant governor’s office is required to submit an economic analysis to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget which includes how much additional tax revenue was generated by the event.

As of the latest budget estimate, the Major Events Fund has a balance of $22.04 million.

In the fiscal 2025 budget, $10 million from the fund has been appropriated to the New Orleans Super Bowl Host Committee, Inc. for Super Bowl LIX, which will be played at Caesar’s Superdome in New Orleans.