The Superdome, 2011
|Former names||Louisiana Superdome (1975–2011) |
Mercedes-Benz Superdome (2011-2021)
|Address||1500 Sugar Bowl Drive|
|Location||New Orleans, Louisiana|
|Public transit||Poydras Street New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal|
|Owner||The Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District|
|Capacity||American football: 73,208 (expandable to 76,468)|
|Record attendance||78,133 (WrestleMania 34, April 8, 2018)|
|Surface||Monsanto "Mardi Grass" turf (1975–2003)|
Sportexe Momentum Turf (2006–2009)
UBU Speed Series S5 (2010–2016)
Act Global UBU Speed S5-M Synthetic Turf (2017–2018)
Turf Nation S5 (2019–present)
|Broke ground||August 12, 1971|
|Opened||August 3, 1975|
|Reopened||September 25, 2006|
|Construction cost||US$134 million (Initial)|
($637 million in 2019 dollars)
Renovations: US$193 million (2005–06 repairs)
($245 million in 2019 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|
|New Orleans Saints (NFL) (1975–2004, 2006–present)|
Sugar Bowl (NCAA) (1975–2005, 2007–present)
Tulane Green Wave (NCAA) (1975–2004, 2006–2013)
New Orleans Jazz (NBA) (1975–1979)
New Orleans Pelicans (AA) (1977)
New Orleans Breakers (USFL) (1984)
New Orleans Night (AFL) (1991–1992)
New Orleans Bowl (NCAA) (2001–2004, 2006–present)
New Orleans VooDoo (AFL) (2013)
|NRHP reference No.||15001004|
|Designated||January 27, 2016|
The Mercedes-Benz Superdome, often referred to simply as the Superdome, is a domed sports and exhibition stadium located in the Central Business District of New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. It primarily serves as the home venue for the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League (NFL), the home stadium for the Sugar Bowl, New Orleans Bowl in college football, and the longtime rivalry football game of the SWAC Conference’s Southern University and Grambling State University, known as the Bayou Classic (held yearly, every Thanksgiving Weekend). It also houses their schools’ Battle of the Bands between The Southern University "The Human Jukebox" and Grambling State’s Tiger Marching Band.
Plans were drawn up in 1967 by the New Orleans modernist architectural firm of Curtis and Davis and the building opened as the Louisiana Superdome in 1975. Its steel frame covers a 13-acre (5.3 ha) expanse and the 273-foot (83 m) dome is made of a lamellar multi-ringed frame and has a diameter of 680 feet (210 m), making it the largest fixed domed structure in the world. It is adjacent to the Smoothie King Center.
Because of the building's size and location in one of the major tourist destinations of the United States, the Superdome routinely hosts major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, College Football Championship Game, and the Final Four in college basketball. The stadium was also the long-time home of the Tulane Green Wave football team of Tulane University until 2014 (when they returned on-campus at Yulman Stadium) and was the home venue of the New Orleans Jazz of the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1975 until 1979.
The Superdome gained international attention of a different type in 2005 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. It was eventually decided the building would be fully refurbished and reopened in time for the Saints' 2006 home opener on September 25.
The Superdome is located on 70 acres (28 ha) of land, including the former Girod Street Cemetery. The dome has an interior space of 125 million 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) and a maximum basketball seating capacity of 73,432. However, published attendance figures from events such as the Super 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 Superdome's capacity was 78,133 for WWE WrestleMania 34. The actual capacity is 73,208 people.
The chronology of the capacity for football is as follows:
|2011–present||73,208 (expandable to 76,468)|
The BCS National Championship Game was played at the Superdome four times. The College Football Playoff semifinal game is played every three years in the stadium. 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.
The annual Louisiana Prep Classic state championship football games organized by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association have been held at the Superdome since 1981, except in 2005 following the extreme damage of Hurricane Katrina. The first state championship game in the stadium matched New Orleans Catholic League powers St. Augustine and Jesuit on December 15, 1978. The Purple Knights won their second Class AAAA title in four seasons by ousting the Blue Jays, 13–7, in front of over 42,000 fans.
|Date||Super Bowl||Team (Visitor)||Points||Team (Home)||Points||Spectators|
|January 15, 1978||XII||Dallas Cowboys||27||Denver Broncos||10||76,400|
|January 25, 1981||XV||Oakland Raiders||27||Philadelphia Eagles||10||76,135|
|January 26, 1986||XX||Chicago Bears||46||New England Patriots||10||73,818|
|January 28, 1990||XXIV||San Francisco 49ers||55||Denver Broncos||10||72,919|
|January 26, 1997||XXXI||New England Patriots||21||Green Bay Packers||35||72,301|
|February 3, 2002||XXXVI||St. Louis Rams||17||New England Patriots||20||72,922|
|February 3, 2013||XLVII||Baltimore Ravens||34||San Francisco 49ers||31||71,024|
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.
When the plaza level seats remained moveable, the capacity for baseball was 63,525 and the field size was as followed: 325 feet (99 m) to both left field and right field, 365 feet (111 m) to both left-center field and right-center field, 421 feet (128 m) to center field, and 60 feet (18 m) to the backstop. The bowl was reconfigured in a renovation from 2006–2011, which replaced the moveable seats with a pre-cast concrete deck and moved the seating closer to the field, creating 3,500 new seats in the lower bowl. This made the bowl more suitable for football, but less accommodating for baseball.
Superdome officials pursued negotiations with Oakland Athletics officials during the 1978–79 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.
In the mid-1990s the Superdome was planned to be the home of the yet-to-be named New Orleans team, a charter franchise of the United League (UL) which was a planned third league of Major League Baseball (MLB).
Major League Baseball Exhibitions
The Minnesota Twins and the Houston Astros played an exhibition game on April 6, 1976. 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 9–3 on March 15, 1980. The following day, 43,339 fans saw Floyd Rayford lead the Orioles to a 7–1 win over the Yankees. In 1981, the Yankees played the New York Mets, Philadelphia Philles and Pittsburgh Pirates in the dome. In 1982, the Yankees played the Montreal Expos and Texas Rangers and late in 1982, the Yankees considered opening the 1983 regular season at the Superdome if Yankee Stadium would not be ready yet after renovations. The 1983 New York Yankees also played the Montreal Expos and Toronto Blue Jays in the Superdome that year. 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. In what was a preview of the 1989 World Series, the Oakland A's played the San Francisco Giants in two games on March 28–29, 1989. In 1991, the Los Angeles Dodgers played the Oakland A's in two games on March 22–23, 1991. The A's also played the New York Mets in two contests on March 26–27, 1993. In 1994, the Boston Red Sox played the New York Yankees in two games on April 1–2, 1994. The last professional baseball games played in the Superdome occurred on April 3–4, 1999, when the Chicago Cubs and Minnesota Twins played a two-game series dubbed the "New Orleans Major League Baseball Classic."
Busch Challenge/Winn-Dixie Showdown
The Busch Challenge/Winn-Dixie Showdown was a college baseball tournament held in the Superdome from 1987 to 1999. LSU, Tulane and University of New Orleans played an in-state team and out-of-state teams from Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas in the annual tournament. The in-state team was Louisiana-Lafayette. The out-of-state teams were Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Cal State Fullerton, Duke, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech, Houston, Lamar, Miami (FL), Mississippi State, NC State, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Oral Roberts, South Alabama, Southern California, Southern Mississippi, Texas A&M, UCLA.
The NCAA has hosted the Men's Final Four at the Superdome five times in 1982, 1987, 1993, 2003, and 2012. The stadium hosted regional semifinals and finals in 1981 and 1990, as well as first- and second-round games in 1999 and 2001.
The NBA's New Orleans Jazz used the Superdome as their home court, from 1975 to 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.
Tulane used the Superdome as its primary home court from its opening in 1975 through 1982. It played occasional games there in the 1990s against high-profile opponents before the opening of the New Orleans Arena (now the Smoothie King Center) in 1999.
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.
The Superdome hosted the September 15, 1978 fight some called the Ali rematch where Muhammad Ali won the world Heavyweight title for the third time by beating Leon Spinks in front of a crowd of 65,000. It was Ali's last professional win.
Leonard–Durán II, also known as the No Más Fight, took place on November 25, 1980 at the Louisiana Superdome. In the match, Sugar Ray Leonard defeated Roberto Durán to regain the WBC Welterweight Championship. The match gained its famous appellation in the end of the eighth round when Durán turned away from Leonard, towards the referee and quit by saying "No más" (Spanish for "No more").
On December 3, 1982, the Superdome hosted the Carnival of Champions. In the first of two co-main events, Wilfredo Gómez would defend his WBC world Jr Featherweight championship against WBC's world Bantamweight champion Lupe Pintor. In the second, Wilfred Benítez defended his WBC world Jr Middleweight championship against the former WBA Welterweight champion of the world Thomas Hearns.
At the 1995 U.S. Gymnastics National Championships, Dominique Moceanu became the youngest Women's All-Around National Champion in U.S. history at 13 years old, a record that still stands. John Roethlisberger also won his fourth and final U.S. Men's All-Around National Championship.
The Superdome hosted an AMA Supercross Championship round from 1977 to 1980, 1998 to 2002, 2009 and 2012. On June 4, 1977, 40,000 fans watched Jimmy Weinert win the sixth of 12 races for a $250,000 purse. 20 million pounds (9,100,000 kg) of dirt were piled into the center of the Superdome for the event.
The Superdome was scheduled to host a rugby union match on August 1, 2015 between English Premiership team Saracens and New Zealand's Super Rugby team Crusaders. The match was organized by RugbyLaw, organizers of the National Rugby Football League. The match was cancelled, however, as USA Rugby, the governing body of the sport in the United States, refused to approve the artificial turf playing surface.
The first soccer match to be held in the Superdome, on September 5, 1976, pitted New Orleans local club teams, The Costa Rica Soccer Club and The Olympia Soccer Club. This match was immediately followed by the second soccer match to be held in the Superdome which pitted The New York Cosmos and the Dallas Tornado. The Brazilian star Pelé and Kyle Rote, Jr. led their respective teams. The USWNT played their Final Victory Tour game against China on December 16, 2015 in what was the final match for Abby Wambach. China won 1-0 with the attendance of 32,950, making it a record setting attendance for a soccer match in Louisiana. On October 19, 2017, the USWNT played an international friendly against the Korea Republic, defeating them 3-1. Alex Morgan scored in the 40th minute for the United States, tallying her 78th career goal.
International Soccer Matches
|Date||Winning Team||Result||Losing Team||Tournament||Spectators|
|December 16, 2015||China PR women||1–0||United States women||U.S. Final Victory Tour||32,950|
|October 17, 2017||United States women||3–1||South Korea women||Women’s International Friendly||9,371|
The Superdome was renowned for hosting many of Mid-South Wrestling's large, "Blow Off" events that were culminations of weeks or months of feuds and rivalries. Bill Watts was the promoter of this territory and gained much notoriety from promotion of his events in the Superdome.
April 19, 1986 saw Jim Crockett Promotions (in association with Bill Watts' UWF and All Japan Pro Wrestling) host the first of three annual Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup Tag Team Tournaments. 24 teams competed in a single day show with an afternoon 1st rounds and finals in the evening. The tournament final saw The Road Warriors prevail over Magnum T.A. and Ron Garvin. Besides tag team tournament the Superdome attendance of 13,000 saw NWA World Champion Ric Flair retain the title via disqualification from Dusty Rhodes and Mid-South North American Champion Hacksaw Jim Duggan beat Buzz Sawyer.
WCW held its sixth Clash of the Champions on April 2, 1989. The event saw Ricky Steamboat defeat Ric Flair in a two out of three falls match 2–1 to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Clash VI was held on the same day as WrestleMania V and on free TV in an attempt to hurt the PPV rating. WCW also held the January 13th, 1997 episode of WCW Nitro at the superdome.
WWE WrestleMania XXX
The 30th annual WrestleMania pay-per-view event, WrestleMania XXX, was held at the Superdome on April 6, 2014. This was the first time WWE held its annual event in New Orleans. At the event, The Undertaker's WrestleMania winning streak was ended by Brock Lesnar in front of 75,167 in attendance. Daniel Bryan won two matches. The first match was won against Triple H for a spot in the Triple Threat match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, which he went on to win later in the evening against Randy Orton and Batista. Also the WWE Divas Championship was defended for the very first time at WrestleMania with the champion AJ Lee retaining her title.
WWE WrestleMania 34
The 34th annual WrestleMania pay-per-view event, WrestleMania 34, returned to the Superdome on April 8, 2018. At the event, Charlotte Flair defeated the 2018 Women's Royal Rumble winner Asuka, ending her 2-year undefeated streak as well as retaining the SmackDown Women's Championship, Brock Lesnar defeated Roman Reigns to retain the Universal Championship in the main event, also AJ Styles defeated the 2018 Men's Royal Rumble winner Shinsuke Nakamura to retain the WWE Championship which was also promoted as the main event. In the event, former UFC star Ronda Rousey made her WWE debut in a mixed tag team match with her partner Kurt Angle to defeat Stephanie McMahon and Triple H. Daniel Bryan returned to in-ring action for the first time in nearly 3 years, when he teamed with Shane McMahon to defeat Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. It also featured the return of The Undertaker since his previous loss at WrestleMania 33, who defeated John Cena in an impromptu match lasting under three minutes. The show took place in front of 78,133 people.
Between August 28 and September 14, 1975, the Superdome continued to celebrate its grand opening, with appearances by Bob Hope, Chayl Jhuren, 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 October 3, 1975, June Carter, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter performed in the Dome. Fans included then Governor Edwin Edwards, wife Elaine, children Anna, Victoria, Steven and David, and Edwards' grandchildren.
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 hosted Jimmy Buffett (born in MS) in '76, Willie Nelson in '77, The Commodores in '78, Fats Domino (from New Orleans) in '78, Kenny Rogers (from Houston) in '79, Hank Williams Jr. (from Louisiana) in '81, and Lil Wayne (from New Orleans) in 2018.
|Date||Artist||Opening act(s)||Tour / Concert name||Attendance||Revenue||Notes|
|July 13, 1978||The Rolling Stones||Van Halen
|US Tour 1978||—||—|
|December 5, 1981||The Rolling Stones||George Thorogood
The Neville Brothers
|American Tour 1981||87,500 / 87,500||$1,531,250||Attendees filled the floor area, as well as the regular seating sections.|
|February 14, 1983||Kiss||Zebra||Creatures of the Night Tour/10th Anniversary Tour||10,421 / 15,000||$107,866||Mardis Gras Eve Spectacular|
|February 1, 1985||Prince||Apollonia 6
|Purple Rain Tour||—||—|
|October 6, 1987||David Bowie||—||Glass Spider Tour||—||—|
|November 27, 1987||Whitney Houston||Kenny G||Moment of Truth World Tour||—||—|
|October 18, 1988||George Michael||—||Faith World Tour||24,000 / 30,000||$450,555|
|November 13, 1989||The Rolling Stones||Living Colour||Steel Wheels Tour||59,339 / 59,339||$1,682,220|
|July 8, 1990||Janet Jackson||Chuckii Booker||Rhythm Nation World Tour 1990||—||—|
|August 23, 1990||New Kids on the Block||—||The Magic Summer Tour||—||—|
|August 29, 1992||Guns N' Roses
|Faith No More||Guns N' Roses/Metallica Stadium Tour||39,278 / 39,278||$1,080,145|
|April 24, 1993||Paul McCartney||—||The New World Tour||38,971 / 41,211||$843,850|
|May 14, 1994||Pink Floyd||—||The Division Bell Tour||41,475 / 41,475||$1,401,445|
|October 10, 1994||The Rolling Stones||Bryan Adams||Voodoo Lounge Tour||32,687 / 40,000||$1,464,250|
|July 9, 1996||Kiss||The Melvins||Alive/Worldwide Tour||16,308 / 16,308||$513,665|
|November 21, 1997||U2||Third Eye Blind||PopMart Tour||21,465 / 25,000||$911,528|
|October 28, 1998||Janet Jackson||—||The Velvet Rope Tour||—||—|
|April 12, 1999||Celine Dion||—||Let's Talk About Love World Tour||20,047 / 20,047||$1,153,562|
|June 23, 1999||Cher||Cyndi Lauper
|Do You Believe?||12,754 / 16,000||$712,529|
|February 26, 2000||Backstreet Boys||Jungle Brothers
|Into the Millennium Tour||54,365 / 56,211||$2,286,582|
|May 27, 2000||NSYNC||P!nk
|No Strings Attached Tour||32,516 / 32,516||$1,456,245|
|September 20, 2000||Britney Spears||BBMak||Oops!... I Did It Again Tour||—||—||This concert was taped for a Fox TV special titled There's No Place Like Home.|
|August 22, 2001||NSYNC||Amanda||PopOdyssey Tour||—||—||This show was filmed and released on VHS and DVD.|
|August 25, 2004||Usher||Kanye West
|July 2, 2005||Destiny's Child||—||Destiny Fulfilled... and Lovin' It||—||—||This concert was part of the Essence Music Festival|
|July 7, 2007||Kelly Rowland||—||—||—||—||This concert was part of the Essence Music Festival.|
|July 4, 2008||Rihanna||—||Good Girl Gone Bad Tour||—||—||This show was part of the 2008 Essence Music Festival.|
|July 3, 2010||Alicia Keys||Robin Thicke
|Freedom Tour||—||—||This concert was part of the Essence Music Festival |
|August 3, 2012||Kenny Chesney
|Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
|Brothers of the Sun Tour||37,916 / 40,876||$3,385,855|
|July 7, 2013||Beyoncé||—||The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour||38,441 / 38,441||$5,766,150||This concert was a part of the Essence Music Festival.|
|July 20, 2014||Beyoncé
|—||On the Run Tour||42,374 / 42,374||$5,206,490|
|September 25, 2014||One Direction||5 Seconds of Summer||Where We Are Tour||50,349 / 50,349||$4,258,450|
|July 2, 2015||Kevin Hart||—||What Now? Tour||—||—|
|July 31, 2016||Guns N' Roses||The Cult||Not In This Lifetime... Tour||32,894 / 40,215||$3,447,362|
|September 24, 2016||Beyoncé||DJ Khaled||The Formation World Tour||46,474 / 46,474||$5,349,960||Beyoncé was introduced to the stage by New Orleans native and "Formation" rapper Big Freedia.|
|May 27, 2017||Miranda Lambert||—||Highway Vagabond Tour||—||—||This concert was part of Bayou Country Superfest.|
|September 14, 2017||U2||Beck||The Joshua Tree Tour 2017||34,536 / 34,536||$3,873,405|||
|September 13, 2018||Beyoncé
|Chloe X Halle and DJ Khaled||On the Run II Tour||40,939 / 40,939||$5,437,147|
|September 22, 2018||Taylor Swift||Camila Cabello
|Taylor Swift's Reputation Stadium Tour||53,172 / 53,172||$6,491,546|
|October 31, 2018||Ed Sheeran||Snow Patrol
|÷ Tour||42,295 / 42,295||$2,827,815|
|July 15, 2019||The Rolling Stones||Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk
The Soul Rebels
|No Filter Tour||35,023 / 35,023||$7,163,692||This concert was originally scheduled to take place on July 14, 2019, but was postponed due to Hurricane Barry. The highest grossing concert at the stadium to date.|
In August 2001, the Bassmaster Classic XXXI final weigh-in was held in the stadium.
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. Kientz 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. Along with the state police, Elward Thomas Brady, Jr., a state representative from Terrebonne Parish and a New Orleans native, conducted an investigation into possible financial irregularities, but the Superdome went forward despite the obstacles.
Early history (1975–2003)
First Saints game
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, the original home of the Saints, was condemned for destruction on the day the Superdome opened.
The original artificial turf playing surface in the Superdome was produced and developed by Monsanto (which made the first artificial playing surface for sports, AstroTurf) specifically for the Superdome and was named "Mardi Grass."
New turf installation
The Superdome replaced the first generation "Mardi Grass" surface to the next-generation FieldTurf surface midway through the 2003 football season on November 16.
Shelter of last resort during 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 on August 29, 2005. During the storm on August 29, 2005, 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.
As of August 31, there had been three deaths in the Superdome: two elderly medical patients and a man who is believed to have committed suicide by jumping from the upper level seats. There were also unconfirmed reports of rape, vandalism, violent assaults, crack dealing/drug abuse, and gang activity inside the Superdome. After a National Guardsman was attacked and shot in the dark by an assailant, the National Guard inside the Superdome used barbed wire barricades to separate themselves from the other people in the dome. On September 11, New Orleans Police Superintendent Eddie Compass reported there were "no confirmed reports of any type of sexual assault."
Military Sniper Chris Kyle claimed that during the hurricane, he and another sniper climbed to the top of the dome and killed 30 armed looters, during the chaos following the event. This has never been verified.
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 & Exposition 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.
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 2008, new windows were installed to bring natural light into the building. Later that year, the roof-facing of the Superdome was also remodeled, restoring the roof 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 colored exterior. An innovative barrier system for drainage was also added, allowing the dome to resemble its original facade.
In addition, escalators were added to the outside of the club rooms. Each suite includes 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.
New turf installation
During the summer of 2010 the Superdome installed 111,831 square feet (10,389.4 m2) of the UBU Speed S5-M synthetic turf system, an Act Global brand. In 2017 Act Global installed a new turf in time for the NFL Season. The Superdome has, as of 2017, 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 led 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 were also 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. These state-of-the-art 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.
The Superdome had not taken on corporate naming rights until Mercedes-Benz USA 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. Then-Saints owner Tom Benson also owned Mercedes-Benz dealerships in New Orleans and San Antonio. At that time, it was the third stadium that had 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.
Despite Mercedes-Benz acquiring the naming rights for the Atlanta Falcons' new stadium in 2015, the naming rights contract for the Superdome will remain in place until 2021. Atlanta's stadium opened in 2017 and became the fifth stadium (and second in the NFL) to bear the Mercedes-Benz name. On May 19, 2020, Mercedes-Benz announced that they would not renew their deal with the Superdome to focus on its Atlanta stadium naming rights deal, meaning that the Superdome will receive a new name or revert back to its original name in 2021.
On July 27, 2012, a statue was unveiled at a plaza next to the Superdome. The work, titled Rebirth, depicts one of the most famous plays in Saints history—Steve Gleason's block of a Michael Koenen punt that the Saints recovered for a touchdown early in the first quarter of the team's first post-Katrina game in the Superdome.
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, 2013 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 Entergy, the electrical utility for the New Orleans area. 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.
End zone scoreboards and new lighting
During the 2016 off-season, the smaller videoboards formerly located along the end zone walls above the upper seating bowl were replaced with two large Panasonic HD LED displays that stretch 330 feet (100 m) wide and 35 feet (11 m) tall that are much easier to see throughout the bowl. Other upgrades included a complete upgrade to the Superdome's interior floodlighting system to an efficient LED system with programmable coloring, light show effects, and instant on-off; in normal mode the stadium will have a more vibrant and naturally pleasing system resembling natural daylight.
In November 2019, phase one plans were approved by the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District, commonly known as the Superdome Commission, for a $450 million renovation. The renovation, designed by Trahan Architects, will include atriums that will replace the current ramp system, improved concourses, and field-level end zone boxes. The first phase of work began January 2020 and includes installing alternative exits and constructing a large kitchen and food-service area.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mercedes-Benz Superdome.|
- Official Mercedes-Benz Superdome website
- Mercedes-Benz Superdome at StadiumDB.com
- 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
- Mercedes-Benz Superdome Seating Charts