Louisiana Superdome starts $85 million renovation

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PAUL MARK

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  • Louisiana Superdome starts $85 million renovation

Louisiana Superdome starts $85 million renovation

Just six years ago, the Louisiana Superdome was full of people who were fleeing from the widespread chaos of Hurricane Katrina. The photos of part of the Superdome’s roof peeled off became an icon for the effect of Hurricane Katrina, showing the fierce destructive power of the storm.

The stadium was closed for more than a year to repair the damaged roof and the millions of gallons of water that cascaded into the stadium during the hurricane. More than 35,000 people called the Superdome home for almost two months and many are thankful that they were able to find shelter when all hope seemed lost.

After Katrina, the Superdome went through repairs costing nearly $225 million. The dome will get a further facelift for $85 million. The upgrade could not have come at a better time because the oldest domed stadium in the US will be hosting the national Bowl Championship Series (BCS) in 2012 and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Final Four the following year.

The overhaul is planned to make several changes. Instead of the round flooring plan of the Superdome, construction workers will be creating a new rectangular ground. There will also be new concessions stands and new leather seats with cup holders will be installed in a ‘club area’.

Doug Thornton of the dome management company says that fans will be pleased.

"There is definitely going to be a wow factor," Thornton said. "When you come in the door, you are going to see a completely different dome. The entire configuration on the lower bowl will be changed from an oval to a rectangle."

They have already started the upgrading process by adding a new press box and 16 private suites. On Wednesday, the metal risers that supported the second-tier stands were demolished.

This comes as the biggest investment on the stadium since Katrina. 3.8 million gallons of water were removed, 10,000 seats were replaced, almost ten acres of the roof had o be replaced and 58,000 seats had to be cleaned. The new jazzier stadium will add about 3,500 seats as well as a “club area” where there will be 4,500 leather seats and a private club for season ticket holders.

The plan will remodel the plaza concourse from 18 to 60 feet, add concession stands, and renovate four lounges and 137 suites.

The renovation is taking place in hopes to increase the revenue and in turn decrease the state’s financial obligations to the New Orleans Saints. The work is expected to be completed by June 20, just in time for the Essence Musical Festival on the first of July. The project got some extra time when the Saints were knocked out of the running for the playoffs. The renovation was scheduled to start on the 24th of January.

Besides the money spent to repair the stadium after Katrina, the state of Louisiana has spent an additional $80 million on the Superdome since 2005. The stadium cost $134 million to build when it was inaugurated in 1971. It was opened officially on August 3, 1975, less than four years after it was started.

 

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