Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans
The Mercedes-Benz Superdome, previously known as the Louisiana Superdome and colloquially known as the Superdome, is a sports and exhibition arena located in the Central Business District of New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. Plans were drawn up in 1967 by the New Orleans modernist architectural firm of Curtis and Davis.
It is home to the NFL's New Orleans Saints, the NCAA's Division I-A Tulane Green Wave football team (the largest football stadium in Conference USA), the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, the Allstate Sugar Bowl and, every fourth year, the BCS National Championship game. It is one of the few facilities in the US which can host major sporting events, such as the Super Bowl and the Final Four; as such, given New Orleans' popularity as a tourist destination, whenever it bids to host such an event it routinely makes the "short list" of candidates being considered. It has been chosen to host Super Bowl XLVII in February 2013.
It is the largest fixed domed structure in the world. Its steel frame covers a expanse. Its dome is made of a Lamella multi-ringed frame and has a diameter of .
In 2005, it came to international attention when it was damaged by Hurricane Katrina and housed thousands of people seeking shelter from the storm.
On October 3, 2011, it was announced that Mercedes-Benz purchased naming rights to the stadium. The new name took effect on October 23, 2011. It is the third stadium that has naming rights from Mercedes-Benz, after the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Stuttgart, Germany and the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, China.
The Superdome is located on of land, including the former Girod Street Cemetery. The dome has an interior space of , a height of , a dome diameter of , and a total floor area of .
The Superdome has a listed football seating capacity of 76,468 (expanded) or 69,703 (not expanded), a maximum basketball seating capacity of 55,675, and a maximum baseball capacity of 63,525; however, published attendance figures from events such as the Sugar Bowl football game have exceeded 85,000. The basketball capacity does not reflect the NCAA's new policy on arranging the basketball court on the 50-yard line on the football field, per 2009 NCAA policy. Beginning in 2011, 3,500 seats will be added, increasing the Superdome's capacity to 76,486.
The chronology of the capacity for football is as follows:
- 74,452 (1975–1978)
- 71,330 (1979–1984)
- 71,647 (1985–1986)
- 69,723 (1987–1989)
- 69,065 (1990–1994)
- 70,852 (1995)
- 64,992 (1996)
- 69,420 (1997)
- 69,028 (1998)
- 70,054 (1999)
- 64,900 (2000)
- 70,020 (2001)
- 68,500 (2002–2003)
- 64,900 (2004–2005)
- 70,003 (2006)
- 72,968 (2007–2010)
- 76,468 (2011–present)
The Superdome's primary tenant is the NFL's New Orleans Saints. The team regularly draws capacity crowds.
The NFL has hosted six Super Bowls at the Superdome, with a seventh scheduled for 2013.
In college football, Tulane University plays all of their home games at the stadium. The BCS National Championship Game has been played at the Superdome three times, with a fourth scheduled for 2012. Other bowl games are also played there annually: the Sugar Bowl, State Farm Bayou Classic and the New Orleans Bowl.
Home field advantage
Since the Superdome's reopening in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the increased success of the New Orleans Saints, the Superdome has developed a reputation for having a very strong home field advantage. While all domed stadiums possess this quality to some degree, the Superdome is known to get extremely loud during games, especially during offensive drives by the visiting team.
During a pregame interview before the Minnesota Vikings' opening game of the 2010 NFL season against the Saints, Brett Favre, reflecting on the Vikings' loss to the Saints in the 2009–10 NFC Championship Game, said of the Superdome: "That was, by far, the most hostile environment I've ever been in. You couldn't hear anything." It was during that loss that some of the Vikings players elected to wear earplugs, including Favre. It was the first game of the season that they had chosen to do so. The Vikings' own home stadium, the Metrodome, is itself known for its strong home field advantage.
The first baseball game in the Superdome was an exhibition between the Minnesota Twins and the Houston Astros on April 6, 1976. The American Association New Orleans Pelicans played at the Superdome during the 1977 season. The Pelicans' season attendance was 217,957 at the dome.
Superdome officials pursued negotiations with Oakland Athletics officials during the 1978–1979 baseball off-season about moving the Athletics to the Superdome. The Athletics were unable to break their lease at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum and remained in Oakland. Superdome officials met with the Pittsburgh Pirates in April 1981 about moving the club to New Orleans when the Pirates were unhappy with their lease at Three Rivers Stadium.
The New York Yankees played exhibition games at the Superdome in 1980, 1981, 1982, and 1983. The Yankees hosted the Baltimore Orioles on March 15 and 16, 1980. 45,152 spectators watched the Yankees beat the Orioles 9 to 3 on March 15, 1980. The following day, 43,339 fans saw Floyd Rayford lead the Orioles to a 7 to 1 win over the Yankees. Late in 1982, the Yankees considered opening the 1983 regular season at the Superdome if Yankee Stadium would not be ready yet after renovations. Attendance slipped to 15,129 for a March 27, 1983 Yankees-Blue Jays exhibition game at the Superdome. The Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals closed the 1984 spring training season with two games at the dome on March 31, 1984 and April 1, 1984.
The NCAA has hosted the Men's Final Four at the Superdome four times, with a fifth scheduled in 2012.
The NBA's New Orleans Jazz used the Superdome as their home court, from 1975–1979. In 1977, the Jazz set a then-record in attendance for an NBA game, with 35,077 watching the Jazz against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Sports visionary David Dixon (who decades later founded the United States Football League) conceived of the Superdome while attempting to convince the NFL to award a franchise to New Orleans. After hosting several exhibition games at Tulane Stadium during typical New Orleans summer thunderstorms, Dixon was told by NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle that the NFL would never expand into New Orleans without a domed stadium. Dixon then won the support of the governor of Louisiana, John McKeithen. When they toured the Astrodome in Houston, Texas in 1966, McKeithen was quoted as saying, "I want one of these, only bigger," in reference to the Astrodome itself. Bonds were passed for construction of the Superdome on November 8, 1966, seven days after commissioner Pete Rozelle awarded New Orleans the 25th professional football franchise. The stadium was conceptualized to be a multifunctional stadium but without consideration for professional baseball. Dixon imagined the possibilities of staging simultaneous high school football games side-by-side and suggested that the synthetic surface be white. Blount International of Montgomery, Alabama was chosen to build the stadium.
It was hoped the stadium would be ready in time for the 1972 NFL season, and the final cost of the facility would come in at $46 million. Instead, due to political delays, construction did not start until August 11, 1971, and was not finished until August 1975, seven months after Super Bowl IX was scheduled to be played in the stadium. Since the stadium was not finished in time for the Super Bowl, the game had to be moved to Tulane Stadium, and was played in cold and rainy conditions. Factoring in inflation, construction delays, and the increase in transportation costs caused by the 1973 oil crisis, the final price tag of the stadium skyrocketed to $165 million.
The New Orleans Saints opened the 1975 NFL season at the Superdome, losing 21–0 to the Cincinnati Bengals in the first regular-season game in the facility. Tulane Stadium was condemned for destruction on the day the Superdome opened, although the original concrete sections stood on the Tulane University campus until November 1979.
The first Super Bowl played in the stadium was Super Bowl XII in January 1978, the first in prime time.
The original artificial turf playing surface in the Superdome was produced by Monsanto specifically for the Superdome and was named "Mardi Grass."
20th century special events
In boxing, Muhammad Ali defeated Leon Spinks, in Ali's last professional win, in front of a crowd of 65,000 in 1977.<ref name=Timeline />
A 1981 Rolling Stones concert attracted more than 87,500 spectators, with attendees filling the floor area as well as the regular seating sections.
Pope John Paul II addressed 80,000 children at the stadium in 1987.<ref name=Timeline />
The Republican National Convention was held there in 1988.<ref name=Timeline />
Metallica and Guns N' Roses brought the Guns N' Roses/Metallica Stadium Tour to the Superdome on August 29, 1992, with Faith No More as their opening act.
The Superdome converted its artificial grass surface to Field Turf midway through the 2003 football season on November 16.
Effect of Hurricane Katrina
The Superdome was used as a "shelter of last resort" for those in New Orleans unable to evacuate from Hurricane Katrina when it struck in late August 2005. During the storm, a large section of the outer covering was peeled off by high winds. The photos of the damage, in which the concrete underneath was exposed, quickly became an iconic image of Hurricane Katrina. A few days later the dome was closed until September 25, 2006. During the ordeal, the stadium sheltered about 35,000 people. A 2008 book, Diary From the Dome is a personal memoir that details some of the ordeals that took place inside the Superdome.
Reopening after Katrina
The Superdome cost $185 million to repair and refurbish. To repair the Superdome, FEMA put up $115 million, the state spent $13 million, the Louisiana Stadium & Expedition District refinanced a bond package to secure $41 million and the NFL contributed $15 million.
After being damaged from the floodi disaster, a new Sportexe MomentumTurf surface was installed for the 2006 season.
On Super Bowl XL Sunday (February 5, 2006), the NFL announced that the Saints would play their home opener on September 24, 2006 in the Superdome against the Atlanta Falcons. The game was later moved to Monday night, September 25, 2006.
The reopening of the dome was celebrated with festivities including a free outdoor concert by the Goo Goo Dolls before fans were allowed in, a pre-game performance by the rock bands U2 and Green Day performing a cover of The Skids' "The Saints Are Coming", and a coin toss conducted by former President George H. W. Bush. In front of ESPN's largest-ever audience at that time, the Saints won the game 23–3 with 70,003 in attendance and went on to a successful season reaching their first ever NFC Championship Game.
The first bowl game played in the Superdome after Katrina was the New Orleans Bowl won by the Troy University Trojans 41–17 over the Rice University Owls.
In early 2006, the Superdome began to undergo $320 million in renovations in three phases, due to its contract with the New Orleans Saints. New windows have been installed for natural lighting, and a new face lift will be constructed. The roof-facing of the Superdome will be remodeled with a solid white hue and the sides of the dome panels will resemble a champagne bronze color. The entire outer layer of the stadium, more than 400000 sqft of aluminum siding, will be replaced with new aluminum panels and insulation, and an innovative barrier system for drainage added by 2010. The dome is set to resemble its original facade.
In addition escalators will be added to the outside of the club rooms. Each suite will have modernized rooms with raised ceilings, leather sofas and flat-screen TVs, as well as glass, brushed aluminum and wood-grain furnishings. A new $600,000 point-of-sale system is also being installed, which will allow fans to purchase concessions with credit cards throughout the stadium for the first time. Once all three phases of the renovation are completed the Superdome will be one of the most up-to-date facilities in the U.S.
During the summer of 2010 the Superdome installed 111831 sqft of the Speed S5-M synthetic turf system by UBU Sports, the Superdome now has the largest continuous synthetic turf system in the NFL.
At the beginning of 2011 demolition and new construction has begun to the lower bowl of the stadium, reconfiguring it to increase seating by 3,500, widening the plaza concourse, building two bunker club lounges and adding additional concession stands. Crews have started tearing down the temporary stairs that lead from Champions Square to the Dome, replacing them with permanent steps. Workers also will complete the installation of express elevators that will taxi coaches and media from the ground level of the stadium to the press box. Plans also call for two 7500 sqft bunker lounges on each side of the stadium. The lounges will be equipped with flat-screen TVs, granite counter tops and full-service bars. The lounges will serve 4,500 fans, whose old plaza seats will be upgraded to premium tickets, giving those fans leather chairs with cup-holders. The plaza level will also be extended, closing in space between the concourse and plaza seating to add new restrooms and concession areas. The renovations will also end the stadium's ability to convert to a baseball configuration. The renovations were completed in late June 2011 in time for the Essence Music Festival.
Naming rights: The Mercedes-Benz Superdome
The Superdome had not taken on corporate naming rights, until Mercedes-Benz acquired the rights in 2011. Though the stadium is owned by the state of Louisiana, the New Orleans Saints' lease gives the team the authority to sell the rights. Saints owner Tom Benson also owns Mercedes-Benz dealerships in New Orleans and San Antonio, Texas.<ref name=USA_Today_naming_rights />
15. ^ "2007 Essence Music Festival 'Coming Home' to New Orleans July 5, 6, 7". http://www.timewarner.com/corp/newsroom/pr/0,20812,1550230,00.html. Retrieved 2007-04-17.
- Official Louisiana Superdome website
- Stadium picture
- Tulane Green Wave – Louisiana Superdome
- Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries