Mercedes-Benz Superdome facts for kids

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Superdome from Garage.jpg
Nickname(s) "Superdome"
Location New Orleans, Louisiana
Opened August 3, 1975
Owner Louisiana Stadium/Expo District
Construction Cost US$134 million (Initial)
($531 million in 2020 dollars )

US$193 million (2005–06 repairs)
Renovations: ($204 million in 2020 dollars )
Former name(s) Louisiana Superdome (1975–2011)
Coordinates Script error: The function "coordinsert" does not exist.
Architectural style(s) Other
Governing body Private
Capacity American football: 73,208 (expandable to 76,468)
Basketball: 55,675

The Mercedes-Benz Superdome, often referred to simply as the Superdome, is a domed sports and exhibition venue 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), and is also the home stadium for the Sugar Bowl and New Orleans Bowl in college football. 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 2013 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.

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. At that time, it was 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. Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium (home of the Falcons, who, like the Saints, also play in the NFC South), set to open in 2017, will become the fifth stadium (and second in the NFL) to bear the name of the German automaker.

Description

The Superdome is located on 70 acres (28 ha) of land, including the former Girod Street Cemetery. The dome has an interior space of 125,000,000 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).

Capacity

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 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 Superdome's capacity was 75,167 for WWE WrestleMania XXX. The actual capacity is 73,208 people.

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)

Special events

The Superdome held its official dedication ceremonies on August 3, 1975. Jazz musicians Al Hirt and Pete Fountain played for the event.

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' grandhcildren.

The Superdome's 1977 New Year's Eve celebration opened with The Emotions and Deniece Williams, followed by Earth, Wind and Fire.

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.

On December 5, 1981, a concert by The Rolling Stones attracted more than 87,500 spectators, with attendees filling in the floor area, as well as the regular seating sections.

Governor Edwin Edwards held his third inaugural ball at the Superdome March 12, 1984. Headline acts included Doug Kershaw and Susan Anton.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church held its 54th General Conference session at the Superdome in June and July 1985.

Because of a booking mixup, the Jets performed a full set to an empty Superdome in the summer of 1987.

Pope John Paul II addressed 80,000 children at the stadium in 1987.

The Republican National Convention was held there in 1988, nominating then-Vice President George H. W. Bush for President and U.S. Senator Dan Quayle of Indiana as Vice President.

The annual Essence Music Festival has been held in the Superdome every year since 1995 except for 2006, when it was held in Houston, Texas due to Hurricane Katrina repairs.

In June 1996, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Disney's 34th animated feature, had a gala world premiere at this stadium, with over 65,000 people attending the event.

NSYNC performed here during their 2001 PopOdyssey Tour. The August 22nd show was filmed and released on VHS and DVD.

In August 2001, the Bassmaster Classic XXXI final weigh-in was held in the stadium.

Beyoncé performed on July 7, 2013 during The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour. The concert was a part of the Essence Music Festival and broke the attendance record.

On April 6, 2014, WWE held WrestleMania XXX at the Superdome in front of 75,167 fans. 3 years later it was announced that WrestleMania 34 would take place at the Superdome on April 8, 2018.

Stadium history

Planning

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. 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 (1975–1999)

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.

First Super Bowl
The first Super Bowl played in the stadium was Super Bowl XII in January 1978, the first in prime time.

Original turf
The original artificial turf playing surface in the Superdome was produced by Monsanto specifically for the Superdome and was named "Mardi Grass."

2000–2009

Superdome during National Lutheran Youth Gathering
The exterior of the Superdome during the 2001 National Lutheran Youth Gathering.

New turf installation
The Superdome converted its artificial grass surface to synthetic 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.

Reopening after Katrina

Louisiana Superdome damage repair
Contractors repair the roof to prepare for the reopening of the Superdome. (July 10, 2006)

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.

The first bowl game played in the Superdome after Katrina was the New Orleans Bowl won by the Troy Trojans 41–17 over the Rice Owls.

Renovations

Superdome Renovations
Construction workers replace the Superdome's 30 plus year-old siding
Mercedes-Benz Superdome Poydras bike
The inscription "Mercedes-Benz Superdome" went on to the sides of the stadium in late October 2011

In early 2006, the Superdome began a $320 million renovation that consisted of three remodeling 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. 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.

2010–present

New turf installation
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.

Renovations
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 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.

Naming rights
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. 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.

Statue

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.

The Superdome was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.

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 high definition LED displays that stretch 330 feet (100 m) wide and 35 feet (11 m) and are more visible 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.

Images for kids


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