Should New Orleans replace the Mercedes-Benz Superdome?

On May 24, 2016 the city of New Orleans, its National Football League franchise, and the entire Who Dat Nation received devastating news. New Orleans had lost its bid to host the 53rd edition of the NFL’s Super Bowl in 2019 to the city of Atlanta. However the cost of winning totaled $1.4 billion as Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank built a new stadium to entice owners to vote in favor of placing said Super Bowl in Falcons territory.

This latest defeat started a firestorm of speculation among locals and fans that the city could benefit from tearing down the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and build a bright new shiny object on the banks of the mighty Mississippi. In light of recent developments the question remains, should the city of New Orleans replace the Mercedes-Benz Superdome?

The Daily Comet says:

After failing in back-to-back Super Bowl bids, some people have questioned the Superdome viability of hosting the NFL’s marquee event. Those questions have prompted some to say that it is time for a stadium to be built for the Saints in an effort to bring the Super Bowl back to the Crescent City for the first time since the 2012 season.

Nestled near the Mississippi river and completed in 1975 at a cost of $134 million, the Superdome became a modern marvel. A July 6, 1975 article in the Chicago Tribune, by way of the Associated Press, claimed it had been called “The ninth wonder of the world.” When plans were being drawn up in the 1960s, then governor of Louisiana John McKeithen exclaimed the Superdome would be “the greatest building in the history of mankind!”

Upon completion, the structure, which took almost a decade of delays and political infighting to finish, stood at 273 feet and encompassed 12 acres of land. At the time the Astrodome in nearby Houston, Texas was seen as the marvel of indoor athletic stadiums, but New Orleans had taken over that distinction by building a dome that could comfortably fit the Houston Astrodome within its pristine white roof and concrete walls. 

Almost three decades later, the home of the lovable losers was deemed an eye sore. New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson begged for a new stadium when the lease was set to expire after 2005. The state of Louisiana even sent Mr. Benson a deal that would allow for the construction of a new stadium in 2009 with renovations to the Superdome starting in 2005. The deal broke down during negotiations in part because Benson was said to have wanted to build the new stadium in nearby Mississippi.

Superdome Hurricane Katrina

AP Photo/Eric Gay

On August 29, 2005, mere months before the lease with the state of Louisiana was set to expire, tragedy struck. The devastating winds of hurricane Katrina made swiss cheese out of the 30-year-old Superdome and its roof. For the first time in 3 decades a single natural ray of sun broke through what was supposed to be state of the art wind resistant rubber roofing and metal panels. The Superdome was no longer super. It became the tragedy-dome, the fearful-dome, the destruction-dome.

The next six years would see $336 million poured into reconstruction and facility upgrades. In New Orleans an even more modern marvel had returned. It was dubbed Rebirth. Not only did the Superdome return but the city of New Orleans was back. In 2013, the Super Bowl had returned as well, and New Orleans showed why it is the greatest party city in the world. The game was not without it’s glitches as a power outage delayed the game for 34 minutes in the third quarter of the matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens. All that did was allow for more good times, good food, and good libations.

It’s the city, the food, the people that will bring the National Football League and its group of owners crawling back to the crescent city for another Super Bowl in the near future.
Now, after two failed bids to host the Super Bowls in 2018 and 2019, and what could turn into another decade without hosting the biggest sporting event in America, fingers are being pointed everywhere. Blame is being put on the state and the franchise for not keeping up with the times and building a new state of the art facility. Does New Orleans honestly need a new stadium to compete with the rest of the United States to host a Super Bowl? Does the city of New Orleans think that little of itself?

Credit: Mark J. Rebilask-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Mark J. Rebilask-USA TODAY Sports

The Superdome is an icon, not a relic. It is where the pope, the leader of the entire catholic faith, once held a youth rally in 1987. Exiting off of Interstate 10 toward Poydras Street, there it sits, roof glistening in the hot Louisiana sun. The Superdome is as much a part of New Orleans as Jazz music, sazerac and gumbo. It should never leave that gorgeous New Orleans skyline. Should there be a new Bourbon Street, or a new Commander’s Palace? Should the city replace Frenchmen Street for a bustling new pedestrian mecca? There are no calls for a new Café Du Monde, so why should the city even consider calls for a new stadium in light of current events?

New Orleans Saints

Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The city of New Orleans is a party planner’s dream, with a plethora of great hotels only walking distance to the greatest attractions in the world. Bars handing out ‘go cups’ never seem to lament the influx of tourists during festivals or sporting events. The people, the last bastion of hope for America, welcome all participants with open arms and jambalaya. The Super Bowl has never been about the game or the stadium it is played in. The Super Bowl is about the atmosphere. It is a week-long party and needs a home that can sustain that party atmosphere. That is what New Orleans brings.

The city of New Orleans is the single reason why building a new stadium would be the worst financial decision the state of Louisiana has ever seen(which is saying a lot with the history of economics in Louisiana). It’s the city, the food, the people who will bring the National Football League and its group of owners crawling back to the crescent city for another Super Bowl in the near future.

Those piping hot beignets, the degustation menu at celebrity chef John Besh’s Restaurant August or a Vieux Carré and a twirl around the famous carousel bar inside the Hotel Monteleone, these are the things that help New Orleans remain the most popular Super Bowl destination in the country.