Activities, History and museums
The Mercedes-Benz Superdome (originally Louisiana Superdome and commonly The Superdome or The Dome) is a domed sports and exhibition venue, located in the Central Business District of New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. Plans were drawn up in 1967, by the New Orleans modernist architectural firm of Curtis and Davis. Its steel frame covers a 13-acre (5.3 ha) expanse. Its 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 size and location in one of the major tourist destinations in the United States, the Superdome routinely makes the "short list" of candidates being considered for major sporting events, the Super Bowl, College Football Championship Game and the Final Four. It is the home stadium of the New Orleans Saints American football team.
In 2005, the Superdome gained international attention of a different type 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. It is 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.
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).
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:
The Superdome's primary tenant is the NFL's New Orleans Saints. The team regularly draws capacity crowds.
The NFL has hosted seven Super Bowls at the Superdome, most recently Super Bowl XLVII in 2013.
The 1976 Pro Bowl was held at the Superdome on Monday, January 26, 1976. It was the NFL's 26th annual all-star game.
Tulane University played their home games at the stadium from 1975–2013 before moving to on-campus Yulman Stadium.
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.
In 2013, the Arena Football League New Orleans VooDoo played their last six home games of the season at the stadium. From 1991–1992 the New Orleans Night of the AFL played at the stadium.
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.
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 to both left field and right field, 365 feet to both left-center field and right-center field, 421 feet to center field, and 60 feet to the backstop. Due to the reconfiguration of the lower bowl that began in 2011, the stadium can no longer host baseball games.
The first baseball game in the Superdome was an exhibition between the Minnesota Twins and the Houston Astros on April 6, 1976.
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.
Minor League Baseball
The American Association New Orleans Pelicans played at the Superdome during the 1977 season. The Pelicans' season attendance was 217,957 at the dome.
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 1987–1999. 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 NBA's New Orleans Jazz used the Superdome as their home court, from 1975–1979. 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.
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.
The USSR National Gymnastics Team performed for the first time in Louisiana in 1976. The Superdome event featured Olga Korbut, Nelli Kim, Nicolai Andrianov and Alexander Dityatin.
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.
In 2018, The all-star Gymnastics classic will be held at the dome. This will be the first time a gymnastic meet to be held in the state of Louisiana after the first all-star gymnastic classic is held in Atlanta in 2017. It is said to be one of the largest elite gymnastic meet in U.S. history.
The venue is also sometimes used for Monster Jam.
The Superdome hosted an AMA Supercross Championship round from 1977–1980, 1998–2002, 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 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. China won 1-0 with the attendance of 32,950, making it a record setting attendance for a soccer match in Louisiana.
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.
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. Also, 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.
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.
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.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church held its 54th General Conference session at the Superdome in June and July 1985.
Pope John Paul II addressed 80,000 children at the stadium in 1987.
The Republican National Convention was held there in 1988.
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, World Wrestling Entertainment held WrestleMania XXX at the Superdome in front of 75,167 fans.
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.
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.
The original artificial turf playing surface in the Superdome was produced by Monsanto specifically for the Superdome and was named "Mardi Grass."
New turf installation
The Superdome converted its artificial grass surface to FieldTurf 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.