Superdome redecoration work gets nod



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Lousiana Mercedes-Benz Superdome renovation Image: Trahan Architects

The first phase of a $450 m (£349.5 m/€408 m) redecoration of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome football stadium at New Orleans in United States has been green lighted by the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District (LSED).

A NOLA.com report states that a construction firm has been appointed and the first renderings for the project have been unlocked.

LSED, which is in charge of the home of NFL American football franchise the New Orleans Saints for the State, voted to approve the project. Louisiana-based Broadmoor is responsible for first phase construction which will consist of back-of-house work to a large extent, building a large kitchen and food-service area and adding exits to prepare for the removal of ramps inside the Superdome.

The first phase construction cost will come to around $100 m. Speaking to NOLA.com, Victor Trahan, CEO of Trahan Architects, dubbed the first phase construction work as the “enabling phase” and informed that more high-profile construction work will follow suit from 2021 onwards. Ticketed standing-room-only areas (SROs) will be installed in the first phase.

“The strategy here has been to enhance the quality of experience for the spectator at all levels: General seats, club, the suites, and now there is going to be SROs,” informs Trahan.

In the later phases of construction, three new vertical atriums will be introduced at the northeast, northwest and southeast corners of the stadium. Trahan maintains, “These will be beautiful vertical spaces with escalators that move diagonally. People will arrive at these corners as opposed to the enclosed ramps on the sidelines that are in place now.”

End zone field boxes will also be introduced “that will allow you a very unique experience of the game, embedded under the general seats, so that you almost feel like you’re on the field,” Trahan said. He added, “We’re trying to create a diversity of experiences in the Dome, so that it is not just three opportunities – general, club and suite.”

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards way back in August welcomed the State Bond Commission’s consent to plans to finance spruce-up work of the Superdome, stating the news represented the first step in locking down the future of the Saints at the stadium.

The refurbishing work which will cost $450 m is being done to retain the Saints at the Superdome in the foreseeable future and also to make certain that the stadium stays attuned with the new facilities being developed across the NFL.

NOLA.com also reports that the LSED was given the go-ahead by the State Bond Commission to sell up to $350 m in bonds to fund the project. Owned by the State, the Superdome whose capacity stands at 73,208 first went on stream in 1975. The last major $376 m makeover of the venue was done in 2005 to fix damages caused by Hurricane Katrina and was also done by Trahan Architects. The total project cost will see the Saints cover up to around $150 m, while the LSED will fund $210 m through issuing bonds. The balance sum will be covered by the State.

Work is expected to start in early 2020, either after the Superdome’s staging of the College Football Playoff Championship Game on January 13 or the NFC Championship Game on January 19, if the Saints advance during the current NFL season. The renovation work of the Superdome is scheduled to be completed just ahead of the 2024 Super Bowl.

The Saints are in an agreement with the Superdome through 2025 and LSED Chairman Kyle France told NOLA.com that his organization is in talks with stadium operator, ASM Global, over a deal running through to 2035, and there will be room for extending the deal through to 2055. Referring to the negotiations, France states, “We’re on the goal line”.

The Superdome, one of the few remaining Modernist football stadiums from the post-World War II era, was designed by local New Orleans firm Curtis and Davis in 1975 and is considered among the more iconic structures in the city. The building is topped by the largest single-span dome in the country.

The stadium found a place in the National Register of Historic Places in 2016 as an extension of a Tulane School of Architecture (TSA) Master of Preservation Studies project. It found a place in the register notwithstanding the fact that the building is less than 50 years old. Generally, to be included in the National Register, the norm is that the building will have to be more than 50 years old.

Back then, TSA student Amanda Keith decided to nominate the building for the National Register as part of the program’s Economics and Business of Preservation class. Keith gained support for the effort from the Louisiana National Register Review Committee and the National Parks Service.

Keith told Nola.com, “I decided to just keep going with and actually nominate it for real,” adding, “I really love the building … I think it’s such a beautiful building. It’s great modernist design.”

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