NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – It’s considered the “granddaddy” of historically black college matchups.

Louisiana leaders gathered at the Superdome Monday morning, the same place the Southern Jaguars and Grambling Tigers will square off in the 49th Annual Bayou Classic.

The festivities kick off Friday morning with a business expo, and then the highly anticipated Greek Show and Battle of the Bands happens that night.

“It’s not only a great game with two great colleges, but it is a big shot in the arm for tourism here in New Orleans, attracting over 250,000 people from all over and brings a lot of good attention to our city and to our state,” Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser said.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell credits the precautions the city has taken in getting the Bayou Classic to return to New Orleans.

“The City of New Orleans is ready! Recently, this city was named number 9 out of 10 cities in the United States of America, being the fastest growing in bouncing back after COVID-19,” Mayor Cantrell said.

For Southern University President Dennis Shields, this will be his first Bayou Classic as chancellor.

Shields says he’s received some advice along the way.

“They also told me, President Gallot, that partnering with Grambling is awesome for the betterment of students and state. However, Coach Dooley, it was made clear to me that we must always win the Bayou Classic,” Shields joked.

According to Grambling State University President Rick Gallot, Bayou Classic is much more than a football game.

“This is about two historic institutions coming together to highlight to the world the amazing work that our bands, our football team, our cheerleaders, our royal courts,” Gallot said. “All of our students are on display for the entire world to see.”

For more information on all the Bayou Classic events, click here.

The big matchup starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Superdome. Doors open at 11:30 a.m.