|The Superdome, The Dome|
|Former names||Louisiana Superdome (1975–2011)|
|Location||1500 Sugar Bowl Drive
New Orleans, Louisiana 70112
|Broke ground||August 11, 1971|
|Opened||August 3, 1975|
|Owner||Louisiana Stadium/Expo District, Glenn Menard (Manager)|
|Surface||Monsanto "Mardi Grass" turf (1975–2003)
Sportexe Momentum Turf (2006–2009)
UBU-Intensity Series-S5-M Synthetic Turf (2010–present)
Concrete for multipurpose events
|Construction cost||$134 million (Initial)
($572 million in 2012 dollars)
$193 million (2005–06 repairs)
Renovations: ($220 million in 2012 dollars)
|Architect||Curtis and Davis Associated
Edward B. Silverstein & Associates
Nolan, Norman & Nolan
|Structural engineer||Sverdrup & Parcel
Thornton Tomasetti (2006 repairs)
|General contractor||Huber, Hunt, & Nichols/Blount Joint Venture|
|Capacity||American football: 73,208 (expandable to 76,468)
|New Orleans Saints (NFL) (1975–present)
Sugar Bowl (NCAA) (1975–present)
Tulane Green Wave (NCAA) (1975–2013)
New Orleans Jazz (NBA) (1975–1979)
New Orleans Pelicans (American Association) (1977)
New Orleans Breakers (USFL) (1984)
New Orleans Night (AFL) (1991–1992)
Bayou Classic (NCAA) (1974-present)
New Orleans Bowl (NCAA) (2001–present)
WrestleMania XXX (WWE) (2014)
The Mercedes-Benz Superdome (originally Louisiana Superdome and commonly The Superdome) is a domed sports and exhibition venue, located at 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. Its steel frame covers a 13-acre (5.3 ha) expanse. Its 273-foot (83 m) dome is made of a Lamella multi-ringed frame and has a diameter of 680 feet (210 m), making it the largest fixed domed structure in the world.
It is home to WWE's main event of the year Wrestlemania XXX Because of the size and location in one of the major tourist destinations in the United States, the Superdome routinely makes the "short list" of candidates being considered for major sporting events, such as the Super Bowl and the Final Four.
In 2005, the Superdome gained international attention of a different type when it housed thousands of people seeking shelter from Hurricane Katrina. The building suffered extensive damage as a result of the storm, and was closed for many months afterward.
On October 3, 2011, it was announced that German automaker 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 (and first in the United States), after the Mercedes-Benz Arena, the stadium of Bundesliga club VfB Stuttgart, in Stuttgart, Germany and the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, China.
The Superdome is located on 52 acres (21 ha) of land, including the former Girod Street Cemetery. The dome has an interior space of 125,000,000 cubic feet (3,500,000 m3), a height of 253 feet (77.1 m), a dome diameter of 680 feet (207.3 m), and a total floor area of 269,000 square feet (24,991 m2).
The Superdome has a listed football seating capacity of 76,468 (expanded) or 73,208 (not expanded), a maximum basketball seating capacity of 73,432, and a maximum baseball capacity of 63,525; however, published attendance figures from events such as the Sugar Bowl football game have exceeded 79,000. 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. In 2011, 3,500 seats were added, increasing the Superdome's capacity to 76,468.
The chronology of the capacity for football is as follows:
- 74,452 (1975–1978)
- 71,330 (1979–1984)
- 71,647 (1985–1986)
- 69,723 (1987–1990)
- 69,065 (1991–1994)
- 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)
- 68,354 (2006)
- 72,968 (2007–2010)
- 73,208 (expandable to 76,468) (2011–present)
The Superdome's primary tenant is the NFL's New Orleans Saints. The team regularly draws capacity crowds.
In college football, Tulane University plays all of their home games at the stadium, although the school is planning to build a smaller on-campus stadium and move there in 2014. The BCS National Championship Game has been played at the Superdome four times. Two other bowl games are also played there annually: the Sugar Bowl and New Orleans Bowl. The Superdome also hosts the Bayou Classic, a major regular-season game between two of the state's historically black colleges and universities, Grambling State and Southern.
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 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 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 led by Pete "Pistol Pete" Maravich against the Philadelphia 76ers., led by fellow future Hall of Famer Julius Erving.
The Superdome has been the venue of several major boxing events, such as when Muhammad Ali won the world Heavyweight title for the third time by beating Leon Spinks in their rematch, the rematch between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran and the Wilfredo Gomez-Lupe Pintor, Thomas Hearns-Wilfred Benitez doubleheader.
On October 14, 1975, the Dome hosted Muhammad Ali Appreciation Day. The Muhammad Temple of Islam 46 in New Orleans organized the activities, with Ali's appearance as the day's highlight. Speakers included Dr. Na'im Akbar, Wallace D. Muhammad and Louis Farrakhan.
On June 4, 1977, 40,000 fans watched Jimmy Weinert win the sixth of twelve races for the American Motor Cyclist Association $250,000 Supercross series. 20,000,000 pounds of dirt were piled into the center of the Superdome for the event.
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 for football, baseball and basketball [with moveable field level stands that would be arranged specifically for each sport and areas with dirt (for the bases and pitchers mound) covered with metal plates on the stadium floor (they were covered by the artificial turf during football games)] and there are also Meeting Rooms that could be rented for many different purposes. 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.
As the dome was being constructed, various individuals developed eccentric models of the structure: one was of sugar, another consisted of pennies. The so-called "penny model" traveled to the Philadelphia Bicentennial '76 exhibition. New Orleanian Norman J. Kleintz built the model with 2,697 pennies and donated it to the Superdome Board of Commissioners in April, 1974.
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 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
Between August 28 and September 14, 1975, the Superdome continued to celebrate its grand opening, with appearances by Bob Hope, Telly Savalas, Dorothy Lamour, Karen Valentine, and Raquel Welch. The Allman Brothers, the Marshall Tucker band, Wet Willie, the Charlie Daniels band, the O'Jays, the Isley Brothers, the Temptations, Donald Byrd and the Blackbyrds, and the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus also performed.
On May 29, 1977, the First Annual Superdome KOOL Jazz Spectacular featured Aretha Franklin, Al Green, The Spinners, and The Mighty Clouds of Joy. Jimmie "J.J." Walker from the TV series "Good Times" was the guest M.C.
The Superdome converted its artificial grass surface to FieldTurf midway through the 2003 football season on November 16. As part of the major renovation for the 2010 football season the Superdome installed UBU Sports Speed S5-M synthetic turf system.
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.
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 flooding 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.
In early 2006, the Superdome began a $320 million renovation in three phases. First, the stadium was repaired and refurbished from damage suffered during Hurricane Katrina. In 2008, new windows were installed to bring natural light into the building. The roof-facing of the Superdome was remodeled with a solid white hue. Between 2009 and 2010, the entire outer layer of the stadium, more than 400,000 square feet (37,000 m2) of aluminum siding, was replaced with new aluminum panels and insulation, returning the building to its original champagne bronze color. An innovative barrier system for drainage was added. The dome now resembles its original facade.
In addition, escalators were added to the outside of the club rooms. Each suite has 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 was also installed, allowing fans to purchase concessions with credit cards throughout the stadium for the first time.
During the summer of 2010 the Superdome installed 111,831 square feet (10,389.4 m2) of the Speed S5-M synthetic turf system by UBU Sports. The Superdome now has the largest continuous synthetic turf system in the NFL.
Beginning in 2011, demolition and new construction began 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 tore down the temporary stairs that lead from Champions Square to the Dome, and replaced them with permanent steps. Installation of express elevators that take coaches and media from the ground level of the stadium to the press box was completed. New 7,500-square-foot (700 m2) bunker lounges on each side of the stadium were built. The lounges are equipped with flat-screen TVs, granite counter tops and full-service bars. The lounges can serve 4,500 fans, whose old plaza seats were upgraded to premium tickets, giving those fans leather chairs with cup-holders. The plaza level was extended, closing in space between the concourse and plaza seating, adding new restrooms and concession areas. The renovations also ended 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. Now that all three phases of the renovation are complete, the Superdome is one of the most up-to-date facilities in the U.S.
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.
Super Bowl XLVII power failure
The Superdome hosted the Super Bowl XLVII football game on February 3, 2013. A partial power failure halted game play for about 34 minutes in the third quarter between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers. It caused CBS, who was broadcasting the game, to lose some of its cameras as well as voiceovers by the commentators. At no point did the game go off the air, though the game had no audio for about two minutes. While the lights were coming back on, CBS reporters deployed around the stadium reported on the outage as a breaking news situation until power was restored enough for play to continue.
On February 8, it was reported that a relay device intended to prevent an electrical overload had caused the failure. The device was located in an electrical vault owned and operated by New Orleans's energy company. That vault is approximately one quarter mile away from the Superdome. A subsequent report from an independent auditor confirmed the relay device as the cause. The Superdome's own power system was never compromised and continues to function normally.
On February 18, 2013, it was announced that WWE would hold WrestleMania XXX at the Superdome. The event is due to take place on April 6, 2014. This will be the first time WWE will hold its annual event in the New Orleans area.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Louisiana Superdome|
- Official Mercedes-Benz Superdome website
- The Times-Picayune in 175 years – 1975: The Superdome opens in New Orleans
- Stadium picture
- Louisiana Superdome at Structurae
- Tulane Green Wave – Louisiana Superdome
- Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries