BATON ROUGE, LA -
As the sun set on Tiger Stadium in the fall of 2003, Louisiana's Governor, state and local legislators and officials, leaders of industry, coastal communities and the non-profit sector gathered to build their case for saving coastal Louisiana. Called by the America's WETLAND Foundation (AWF) to view the Jumbotron screens, the football field was soon submerged in water and the overlaid words read: "LOUISIANA LOSES A FOOTBALL FIELD OF LAND EVERY 50 MINUTES TO COASTAL EROSION." The simple message became a rallying cry and millions of people became astounded by the reality tied to a simple image.
The relationship has not been lost on a Saints football season where, in a nanosecond, the football field of dreams was, like wetlands, robbed from the city and surrounding communities. It was following Hurricane Katrina, where AWF served a communications triage role using the football field to build media awareness worldwide about the impact of wetland loss on the tragedy.
At the opening of the 2006 hurricane season and fresh from Katrina wounds and needs, the Foundation and Women of the Storm (WOS) gathered on the once submerged New Orleans City
Park Tad Gormley Stadium turf, forming a giant human U.S. map of states denoting the lack of support at the time from Congress for recovery and wetland restoration. The stunning images of youth bands and student groups made headlines and served as a base for future WOS visits to lobby Congress for needed assistance for the Crescent City.
The Saints and America's WETLAND Foundation teamed up for four cause-related NFL games dedicated to spreading the word about the urgency to act on wetland loss. The now memorable scene of water covering the football field on the giant screens reminded Saints fans of the fight ahead and the importance of action. The media campaign, "GAME ON," was also launched in the Superdome, extending the football field metaphor with advertising buys and school outreach initiatives.
Super Bowl LIII will be a reminder of challenges faced and the painful drama of loss. National organizations will air ads to connect the message of wetland loss to the football metaphor in hopes to further extend messages of coastal restoration's importance to all Americans. The game will be
followed by volunteer activities on February 9th, hosted by AWF, eRotary Coastal, BHP. RES and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in Terrebonne Parish, where more than hundred of die hard fans of the wetlands will dig in to plant thousands of Bald Cypr
ess and bring back several football fields of wetlands; returning a historic forest to life.
On this football weekend, America's WETLAND Foundation honors adversity with a pledge of resiliency and the comeback spirit brought to us by our Saints and the thousands who work everyday to turn back the tide of coastal erosion by adapting to a secure future.