Done With the Dome

New Orleans needs a new stadium.

Fifteen years ago, the state of Louisiana was busy with negotiations over building a half-billion-dollar stadium Downtown in order to keep the New Orleans Saints in the Crescent City.

Hurricane Katrina and a refurbished Superdome scrubbed those plans.

But in the wake of New Orleans missing out in the latest round of bidding on hosting rights to one of American sports’ “Big 3” – the Super Bowl, College Football Championship Game and NCAA Final Four – it may be time for city, state and local business leaders to dust off those shelved plans and start considering up to a $1 billion investment. It may be the only way to keep New Orleans one of the nation’s premier sporting destinations.

Before you die-hards get too worked up, let me start by saying I love the Superdome and am thrilled the city, state and federal governments put so much effort into reopening it so quickly after the hurricane. It was truly a beacon of hope. As the return of the Saints came to symbolize the beginning of the return of the city, the reopening of the Superdome served as a sort of communal homecoming. The Superdome will forever have a place in my heart and mind. And that’s where it needs to go.

A decade after Hurricane Katrina, however, the nation has moved on from New Orleans’ recovery story. Gone is the feeling of sentimentality or, dare I say it, charity, from organizations who may have brought their major events to the city to help it get back on its feet.

There is no doubt that, despite recent upgrades, the Superdome hasn’t aged gracefully. It is difficult to move around the concessions areas, more restrooms are needed, and exiting after a game often resembles a mob scene.

The Saints’ current lease with the state runs through 2025, at which time the building will be 50 years old. All of the cities in the current rotation for the “Big 3” have stadiums that have recently opened or are set to open in the next few years. None of them are known for being a better host, and none can compete with New Orleans’ geography, which may be its greatest asset – with an array of sporting venues, entertainment districts, and hotels within just a walk or very short cab ride.

The bid process for landing major sporting events is a citywide effort involving every major sports organization in town, including Tulane University, the University of New Orleans, the Allstate Sugar Bowl, the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, the Sun Belt Conference, the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, and SMG, the Superdome and Smoothie King Center’s management company. But at this point, it needs to be a statewide endeavor.

Katrina knocked New Orleans down, and we’ve gotten the city back on its feet. Now it’s time to move forward.

Make sure to check out The Pennant Chase’s blog post every Friday at for more on the business side of southeast Louisiana sports.


If you build it…

American sports’ “Big 3” – the Super Bowl, College Football Championship Game and NCAA Final Four – are currently scheduled to be played in cities that have recently opened or will open stadiums in the next few years.

            NFL              College Football          NCAA

            Super Bowl    National Championship     Final Four

2015    Phoenix                 Dallas                  Indianapolis
2016    San Francisco       Phoenix               Houston
2017    Houston                 Tampa                 Phoenix
2018    Minneapolis                *                      San Antonio
2019         *                             *                      Minneapolis
2020         *                             *                      Atlanta
2021         *                             *                      Indianapolis

* Not awarded yet. New Orleans cannot host the 2018 National Championship because the Sugar Bowl is already scheduled to host a semifinal.



Categories: The Magazine