While the word “iconic” is tossed around freely, the Louisiana Superdome is the purest definition of the word. It is widely recognized and well-established, acknowledged especially for its distinctive architectural excellence. The Superdome remains one of the top 5 NFL venues, including the most recently built stadiums, costing billions. Since the Superdome opened in 1975, at a total cost of $134 million, it has been the home to the New Orleans Saints, and the moments experienced here are etched into our memories.
The current renovation of $450 million contemplates the Saints contributing $150 million, the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District contributing $210 million through our bond capacity, and the state of Louisiana contributing $90 million. The renovation comes with a new Saints lease extension keeping the Saints here for decades to come. Renovation ensures the Superdome’s viability for events like Super Bowls, Final Fours and other major events.
The Superdome is a gathering place with more than 300 events and job trainings annually. It is the home for weddings, graduations, job fairs, conventions, concerts, floor shows and more. The Superdome unites people beyond football, but Louisiana high school football players start summer practices with their eyes set on the Superdome for the championship games held each December.
The Superdome is a consistent, powerhouse economic engine for Louisiana and the surrounding regions. More than 3,000 full-time and part-time employees will work a typical Saints game with a game-day payroll of more than $800,000. Then there’s the Allstate Sugar Bowl, Bayou Classic, the New Orleans Bowl, previously mentioned high school football, Essence Fest and many other employment opportunities.
The state sees a $584 million positive economic impact to its budget because of the Superdome and its events every year. These dollars eventually flow to projects all across Louisiana.
Nathaniel C. Curtis Jr. — “Buster” — and the Superdome founding fathers had four design priorities that were paramount to the building’s construction. The current renovation, which kicked off with Phase I in January 2020, will fulfill the fourth pillar of design they envisioned. And that “was to incorporate within the basic design a potential for expansion of the stadium’s functions, in order to enhance and ensure the continuing success of the stadium and its flexibility.” The Buster Curtises and Dave Dixons — and the late Gov. John McKeithen from Columbia — were geniuses ahead of their time and created a building that could last 45 years when other domed stadiums built after have been mothballed.
To date, the Saints and the LSED have contributed the renovation funding needed, which will get the project through Phase 2. The administration of Gov. John Bel Edwards and the LSED are working closely with the legislative leadership, including Senate President Page Cortez, Senate Finance Chair Bodi White, Senate Revenue and Fiscal Chair Bret Allain, Speaker of the House Clay Schexnayder, House Appropriation Chair Jerome “Zee” Zeringue, House Ways and Means Chair Stuart Bishop along with Treasurer John Schroder, Attorney General Jeff Landry, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser and the State Bond Commission to work out the state’s $90 million contribution.
This commitment is critical for the project to move forward with Phases 3-5 to begin following the NCAA Final Four in April 2022. I want to thank the legislative leadership for recognizing the importance of this renovation and the state of Louisiana’s participation in this wise investment to keep the Superdome competitive for the next generation and beyond.
Kyle M. France is chairman of the Louisiana Stadium & Exposition District.
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