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.
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
The Superdome is a massive structure located on 52 acres (210,000 m²)
of land; the dome has an interior space of 125,000,000 ft³ (3,500,000 m³),
a height of 253 feet (82.3 meters), a dome diameter of 680 feet (210
meters), and a total floor area of 269,000 ft² (25,000 m²). 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
More Super Bowls
have been played at the Louisiana Superdome than at any other sports
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
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.
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 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.