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By Wikipedia

The Louisiana Superdome, often informally referred to simply as the Superdome, is a large, multi-purpose sports and exhibition facility located in the Central Business District of New Orleans, Louisiana (29.951 N 90.081 W). The Superdome was the home of the NFL's New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Jazz (now the Utah Jazz) NBA franchise. On September 6, 2005, authorities announced that the stadium had suffered irreparable damage from Hurricane Katrina's winds and flooding, and contained a "probable biohazard" resulting from trash and human waste left in the building. After initial reports that the Superdome would have to be torn down, state officials have said it will be unusable for at least a year.

Stadium history

Construction started on the Louisiana Superdome on August 11, 1971 and was finished in November 1975. An old cemetery was demolished to make space for it; some superstitious locals attribute the poor record of the New Orleans Saints to bad luck produced by disturbing the tombs, although it should be noted that the Saints had a mediocre record since they began play in 1967 in New Orleans's older major sports arena, venerable Tulane Stadium, which was condemned on the day the Superdome opened.

The New Orleans Saints opened the 1975 NFL season at the Superdome.


Floodwaters outside the Superdome, September 2005.

Courtesy DOD/Navy; photo by Brien Aho

The Superdome is a massive structure located on 52 acres (210,000 m) of land; the dome has an interior space of 125,000,000 ft (3,500,000 m), a height of 253 feet (82.3 meters), a dome diameter of 680 feet (210 meters), and a total floor area of 269,000 ft (25,000 m). It was the largest domed structure in the world until it was overtaken at the completion of the Millennium Dome in London, in June 1999.

The Superdome has a listed maximum football seating capacity of 72,003 (expanded) or 69,703 (not expanded), a maximum basketball seating capacity of 55,675, and a maximum baseball capacity of 63,525; however, published attendance figures from events such as the Sugar Bowl have exceeded 79,000.

More Super Bowls have been played at the Louisiana Superdome than at any other sports facility: 1978, 1981, 1986, 1990, 1997, and 2002. The Superdome also hosts the Sugar Bowl, the New Orleans Bowl, Tulane University college football home games, and the Bayou Classic football game between two historically black universities, Grambling State and Southern University. The facility has also hosted several NCAA college basketball Final Fours: 1982, 1987, 1993, and 2003.

In addition to sporting events, the Superdome hosts other large events, notably music concerts by national acts, as well as trade shows and conventions. The 1988 Republican National Convention was held in the Superdome.

Overall, the Louisiana Superdome has withstood the test of time; it has a surprisingly undated look to it; fixed domed stadium construction began to fade in the early 1990s and some others have even been closed.

The New Orleans Arena, a smaller indoor arena adjacent to the Louisiana Superdome, opened on October 19, 1999.

Hurricane Katrina

The Superdome was in use as a "shelter of last resort" for those in New Orleans unable to evacuate from Hurricane Katrina. Approximately 9,000 residents and 550 National Guardsmen rode out the night in the Superdome as Katrina came ashore. Maj. Gen. Bennett C. Landreneau, Adjutant General for the Louisiana National Guard, said that the number of people taking shelter in the Superdome has risen to around 15,000 to 20,000 as search and rescue teams bring more people to the Superdome from areas hit hard by the flooding.

The Superdome was built to withstand most catastrophes; the roof was ostensibly estimated to be able to withstand winds with speeds of up to 200 mph, but flood waters could still possibly reach the second level 20 feet from the ground, making the structure an unreliable shelter in severe rain and wind. However, when looking into the origins of this 200 mph wind security in the Superdome, CNN reported that no engineering study has ever been completed on the amount of wind the structure can withstand; the building's engineering study was underway as Hurricane Katrina approached and was put on hold. It was used as an emergency shelter although it was not designed nor tested for the task.

On August 29, 2005, at about 9:00 AM EDT, reports from inside the Superdome were that part of the roof was "peeling off," daylight could be seen from inside the dome, and rain was pouring in (see photo on the right by Tech. Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald/DOD). The Associated Press stated there were two holes, "each about 15 to 20 feet long and 4 to 5 feet wide." and that water was making its way in at elevator shafts and other small openings.

With the roof damaged by water and wind, water and electricity spotty at best, damage to the overall interior and exterior structures, and a "potential biohazard" from human waste and trash, the Superdome's fate is uncertain. After initial reports that the building's damage was so severe that it would have to be torn down, state officials now say it will be unusable for at least a year. State officials estimate damages at around $400 million. Doug Thornton, a regional vice president for Spectacor Management Group, who operates the stadium for the state, told the Times-Picayune that it will take two to three weeks to decontaminate it, and another 45 days to determine whether it is structurally sound. However, state officials say repairs to the Superdome is far down the list of priorities.



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Image courtesy of the USGS

Opened: August 3, 1975

Surface: concrete based multi-purpose floor, AstroTurf non-football related events, and FieldTurf

Baseball Dimensions: N/A

Capacity: 72,968

Tenants: Saints (NFL, '75-'04)
Jazz (NBA, '75-79)
Breakers (USFL, '84)

Replaced by: Yet to be determined

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It uses material from this Wikipedia article, which is probably more up to date than ours (retrieved August 12, 2005).

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