History: From the 70's to Katrina to the "New" SuperdomeThe Louisiana Superdome opened on August 3, 1975. It was authorized by law in 1966 and construction started in 1971. It's the oldest domed stadium and in fact is the only remaining dome from that first generation of indoor stadium.
When it was built, Poydras St. was far from the business center it is today and the Superdome is credited with rejuvenating the area. The fact that the Superdome is downtown adds to its desirability as a venue.
The Superdome served as a "shelter of last resort" for thousands of people when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005. Katrina winds tore holes in the Superdome roof and water poured in during the storm causing extreme damage. It took several months just to clean up and dry out the Superdome before reconstuction and repair could begin in March 2006.(The Louisiana Superdome Orleans Arena suffered much less damage and actually reopened in March 2006 with a concert featuring Placido Domingo.)
The huge reconstruction project was complete in less than seven months and the Louisiana Superdome reopened on Sept 25, 2006 and a sell-out crowd (as well as the Monday Night Football TV audience) watched the New Orleans Saints defeat the Atlanta Falcons, 23 - 3. Five days later, Tulane returned to the Superdome and played SMU. The Sugar Bowl came back in January 2007 where hometown favorite LSU beat Notre Dame, 41 -14, before another sell out crowd. In July 2007, the Essence Festival returned.
Renovations continued in several stages and the reborn 2011 Superdome became an "ultra modern" stadium. It was a bargain compared to cost of building a new structure.
In 2011, Mercedes-Benz signed a ten year deal with Saints and the Louisiana Superdome became known as the Mercedez-Benz Superdome. The dynamic lights on the Superdome were installed the same year.
The Saints Graveyard CurseA Superdome legend that was often repeated - that is when the Saints were a constant hearbreak and disappointment, before they became the team that actually won the Super Bowl - was that the Saints football team was cursed because the Louisiana Superdome was built on an old cemetary and the spirits were not happy about that.
In fact, the Girod Street Cemetary, which was long abandoned, was in the area of construction, but there is debate about its exact location.
The favorite version is that it is right under the playing field, although some people say it was most likely located under one of the garages or on the edge of the Superdome area. Although if the disturbing of the cemetary was the complaint, I'm not sure how much the alleged spirits would be placated just because the football wasn't being passed directly over their graves.
You don't hear much about the curse since the Saints started winning after Hurricane Katrina. Perhaps Katrina placated the spirits, washed away the curse, or maybe even the ghosts felt like the poor Superdome had suffered enough for any sins.
Famous Happenings in the SuperdomeSome notable events held in the Superdome:
World record for an indoor concert with 87,500 at the Rolling Stones concert in 1981
Republican National Convention (President George H Bush re-nominated) in 1988
Catholic Pope John Paul II spoke to 80,000 school children in 1987
Super Bowls (6 soon to be 7): 1978, 1981, 1986, 1990, 1997, 2002, and 2013
3 BCS College Football Championships Games at the Sugar Bowl
Muhammad Ali Defeated Leon Spinks in 1978
Sugar Ray Leonard defeated Roberto Duran, "No Mas fight", in 1980
5 NCAA Men's Basketball Final Fours
5 NCAA Div. I Regionals
Hurricane Katrina was an infamous happening at the Superdome.
Locals are not the only ones that are impressed. The Superdome lights won an international Architainment (Architecture + Entertainment) Design Award.
Annual football events include the Sugar Bowl, the New Orleans Bowl, the Grambling/Southern Bayou Class, and the LHSAA Prep Classic of Louisiana high school football state championship games. The Tulane Green Wave still play its football games here until the new campus stadium is built. (The old stadium was torn down when the Green Wave moved their games to the then new Superdome)
Other annual events at the Superdome include Essence Music Festival, Monster Jam, the New Orleans Home and Garden Show, and the Boat Show.
Superdome Measurements and Stats73,208 seating capacity
52 acres = buyilding, garages and grounds
273 feet high
680 feet diameter
roof = 9.7 acres
main areana floor = 166,180 square feet
9000 ton air-conditioner!
Champions SquareChampions Square hosts pre and post game celebrations for the Saints (and other football events) with entertainment, restaurant offerings, street vendors and shopping kiosks. For some basketball games, the Square is the site for the New Orleans Hornets Buzz Fest (or whatever they will call it if their name changes.) This outside festival site can also be rented for private events.
Over 8000 people can fit in Champions swuare which is 121,000 square feet. There's an outdoor stage and a giant video screen. Plus, Club XLIV (named after the Saints Superbowl 44 win) is a rather swanky club in its own building located at Champions Square.
More Links of Interest About New Orleans Sports:
All About Mardi Gras in New Orleans