Saints marching home to remodeled Superdome
By Andrew Lippe
They’re back. On Monday Night Football September 25th Saints fans will come marching in through the gates of the Louisiana Superdome for the first time since the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina flooded the city and cost 1,577 their lives. During Katrina the Superdome was a shelter for those who could not leave the city. Only a year later the stadium will be reopened after undergoing a $140 million renovation. Broadcasting on ESPN the game between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons will demonstrate the strength of the human spirit.
“It will be an incredible uplifting experience,” said Toby Valadie production manager at Louisiana Superdome. “Our Governor Blanco could not believe how fast the turnaround had happened.” Americans witnessed live on television the destruction the Hurricane caused to the beautiful complex. The roof had peeled off and rain poured inside and threatened to flood those inside. There were approximately two holes that the Associated Press said was “each about 15 to 20 feet long and 4 to 5 feet wide”.
“The entire roof had to be replaced. The base, the steal, it was a $32 million job, “said Valadie. Those that worked on the repairs clearly worked with a heavy heart with the wreckage surrounding them. Unbeknownst to many New Orleans residents the workers at the Superdome accomplished the unthinkable. In just 90 days going about ten square foot a day they had restructured the entire roof. “With the damage caused by the evacuation our future was uncertain. People will truly be surprised,” Valadie said.
The structure inside the stadium also had to be remodeled. They installed a new turf.They replaced 20,000 seats including all club seating, luxury suites. They now have 137 suites all with LCD screens inside them. Thousands occupied the stadium for days and thus most of the concession stands were trashed or wrecked so they remodeled all of them.
They improved sound quality in the facility by installing new Bose speakers with QSC amplifiers. The Daktronics Scoreboard was also replaced with a Daktronics Pro Ad Video display. They added 14 new video boards measuring 27 X 48 in the north and south endzones with an aspect ratio of 16 x9. They installed four halo boards or facia boards’ one in each corner encompassing 182 feet. Fans in New Orleans have rallied behind the team.
The addition of quarterback Drew Brees and Heisman trophy winner running back Reggie Bush have caused the city to unite behind this football team. “We have sold almost all of our season tickets,” says Valadie.
Fans will be astonished at the sight of this exquisite magical wonderland that is now the New Superdome. Somewhere Buddy Diliberto is smiling. The passionate color commentator who covered his beloved Saints for years knows the Saints are returning home.
“The support for the Saints has caused a renewal for the city,” Valadie said. Saints fans are rejuvenated but so are many Americans who will tune in for the game. When 70,000 pack the stadium millions will watch at home to share in this special night. It will be an amazing experience.