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New Orleans Saints back at home

Old 09-19-06, 09:26 PM
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New Orleans Saints back at home

Dome gets all dressed up

Field set for Saints’ first home game since storm

By JOE GYAN JR.
New Orleans bureau
Published: Sep 19, 2006




With the clock ticking feverishly toward next week’s grand reopening before a nationally televised audience with international interest, the Louisiana Superdome was a beehive of activity Monday. Several hundred workers scrambled to put the finishing touches on the field and stadium that will play host to what all are saying is much more than a football game.

The New Orleans Saints-Atlanta Falcons clash on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” will not only mark the official reopening of the Superdome and the return of the Saints but also will symbolize the rebirth of a city and stadium ravaged by Hurricane Katrina less than 13 months ago, Superdome officials said.

“No one gave us a chance. They really didn’t. There were those who wanted to leave it (the Superdome) for dead. Some people were ready to write it off. We resurrected it. Our hope is that it will provide inspiration,” Doug Thornton, regional vice president of SMG, the private management company for the Dome and adjacent New Orleans Arena, said while taking a photographer and reporter for The Advocate on a guided tour of the repaired and renovated building.

Thorton said the Superdome, where tens of thousands of New Orleanians fled to before and after Katrina and then languished for a week in deplorable conditions, will be both football-ready and fan-ready for Monday night’s kickoff. He cautioned, however, that the stadium is still a work in progress.

“We’ve never said to the public it will be 100 percent complete,” he said. “It’s back to being a football stadium instead of a construction site. It’s been a construction site for 12 months. Now it’s a race to get all the details done. We’re way ahead of where we thought we would be.”

Monday’s flurry of activity inside the Superdome saw workers:

-- Spray-painting the word “SAINTS” in one of the end zones with the help of a huge template.

-- Pouring granulated rubber from 16,000 tires onto the Momentum turf field and brushing and raking it into the playing surface.

-- Performing a final cleaning of some of the more than 68,000 seats.

-- Vacuuming the new carpet in the Saints players’ locker room.

Besides the new 9.7-acre exterior roof, the interior change that most likely will grab the attention of returning fans is the new video board and scoreboard-message system. The ProStar video displays in the end zones are 14-feet wider, or 27 by 48 feet; the four scoreboards have been replaced with high-tech 8 by 44-foot units capable of video and spectacular graphics; and the four new LED “ribbon” boards, each 3 feet, 6 inches high by 183-feet long, will light up the facade of the Loge level.

The new state-of-the-art Bose public address system, mounted in giant speaker clusters in the upper levels of the Superdome’s main arena, is one of the most versatile and sophisticated of any stadium in the country, officials said.

The carpeting in the indoor walk ramps and some of the concourses has been replaced by a non-skid, low-maintenance epoxy flooring system, and the 38 concession stands have a bright new look with stainless steel countertops, new menu boards and graphics, and new lighting. The Club level seating sports wider 21-inch leather seats.

Some of the work on repairs and improvements, primarily in the suites (they have no carpet or millwork) and four ballrooms, will continue through the summer 2007.

“We’re going to progressively finish the suites as we work through the season,” Thornton said.

Superdome spokesman Bill Curl said the price tag for the stadium’s repairs and renovations is $180 million — $51 million in Katrina-related repairs and $129 million in renovations.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is picking up 90 percent of the repair tab, with the state paying the remainder. A refinancing of the Louisiana Stadium & Exposition District debt paid for the renovations, he said. The governor-appointed LSED is commonly referred to as the Superdome Commission.

The Superdome, which opened in August 1975, was built at a cost of $163 million. Thornton said he considers the $180 million cost of the stadium’s repairs and renovations a bargain because a new stadium would have cost between $600 million and $625 million and would have displaced the Saints for several years.

“In the wake of tragedy comes opportunity. It was hard to see that in October 2005,” he said. “It could have gone the other way. There could be a dark cloud hanging over New Orleans right now. The Saints could be playing in San Antonio or Baton Rouge.”

Curl said some 500 media credentials have been requested for the game.

“In many ways I think this is bigger than the opening of the Dome. This is an international story,” he said of Monday night’s grand reopening, noting that reporters from 11 foreign countries have visited the stadium in the last two weeks.

“It’s going to be a party to celebrate a number of things, including the return of the Saints. It’s important to the city and its rebuilding,” LSED chairman Tim Coulon added.

Curl said he is expecting a “uniquely emotional audience” at the game.

“There’s going to be some crying going on,” he said.

Five days after the Saints-Falcons game, Tulane University, which has played all of its games away from the Dome since the storm, will host SMU on Sept. 30 in its season opener.




**********************************************************

Sorry no pics of the changes.

I will watch just to see the Dome.
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Old 09-19-06, 11:53 PM
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Here's hoping to a Reggie Bush show on Monday Night.
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Old 09-20-06, 01:49 PM
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Perhaps the Saints should concentrate on stopping the run.
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Old 09-20-06, 03:07 PM
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The irony is all the money spent (mostly by the feds, amazingly) to renovate the Superdome will have been wasted when Benson boogies the Saints out of New Orleans to San Antonio or L.A. in several years.
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Old 09-20-06, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Red Dog
The irony is all the money spent (mostly by the feds, amazingly) to renovate the Superdome will have been wasted when Benson boogies the Saints out of New Orleans to San Antonio or L.A. in several years.
It's true.

I'm looking forward to the game since I'm a fan. I'm not looking forward to this being another "Look how much the NFL cares" party like the fiasco to open the season last year. The NFL cares when people are watching, but had no issue with the team winding up practicing in a parking lot at one point last season.

Anyway, it would be a major distraction even without the all of the festivities, and the Saints have a helluva tough team to face after the party.
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Old 09-20-06, 04:57 PM
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go falcons
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Old 09-20-06, 05:07 PM
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How do people feel betting this game? THe spread is ATL -3. I feel Atlanta's a better team right now but it's hard to go against the emotional lift that NO will get playing at the Dome for the first time in two years. Plus, I really like Brees at QB.
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Old 09-20-06, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by El Scorcho
How do people feel betting this game? THe spread is ATL -3. I feel Atlanta's a better team right now but it's hard to go against the emotional lift that NO will get playing at the Dome for the first time in two years. Plus, I really like Brees at QB.
I wouldn't put $1 of the University of Alabama's "recruiting" budget on this game
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Old 09-21-06, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by El Scorcho
How do people feel betting this game? THe spread is ATL -3. I feel Atlanta's a better team right now but it's hard to go against the emotional lift that NO will get playing at the Dome for the first time in two years. Plus, I really like Brees at QB.

Road favs on MNF are always tough. I'd probably stay away. Maybe look at the Over.
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Old 09-21-06, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by El Scorcho
How do people feel betting this game? THe spread is ATL -3. I feel Atlanta's a better team right now but it's hard to go against the emotional lift that NO will get playing at the Dome for the first time in two years. Plus, I really like Brees at QB.
If I bet, I'd bet on New Orleans. Atlanta, like Vick, is a F-R-A-U-D.
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Old 09-21-06, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by CRM114
If I bet, I'd bet on New Orleans. Atlanta, like Vick, is a F-R-A-U-D.
Maybe, but NO has a young defense and gave up over 60 on the ground to Charlie Frye even with Cleveland's mediocre running game. If you're right, I'd be hard pressed to believe that even a much improved Saints team is the one that will expose them.
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