The Mercedes-Benz Superdome is poised to receive a $450m (£346.1m/€403.7m) renovation under a deal that will keep the New Orleans Saints at the venue for a further decade and ensure that the stadium keeps pace with the new facilities being developed across American football league the NFL.
Although a deal has yet to be officially signed, multiple reports in the local media said the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District (LSED), which oversees the Superdome for the state, and the Saints are close to an agreement that would involve a 10-year lease extension for the team. The Saints are currently committed to the Superdome through to 2025 and the extension would advance the contract through 2035.
Owned by the state, the 73,208-seat Superdome first opened in 1975 and its last major renovation came with a $376m project to fix the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The latest revamp is being touted as the most significant in its history and LSED chairman Kyle France told NOLA.com that Governor John Edwards gave his approval to the plan during a meeting last month with state and team officials.
“We’ve got a good plan here,” France said. “We’ve done our homework, and we’re going to do this the right way. So far we haven’t had any pushback, and the governor has been an integral part of all this.”
The proposed financing split will see the LSED take on $207m of the cost, the Saints $150m and the state $93m. Broadmoor Construction has already been approved as the construction manager at risk (CMAR) for the pre-construction phase of the project.
The renovation will focus on elements that improve the fan experience at the Superdome, highlighted by revamped entry lobbies at the corners of the stadium along Poydras Street and Champions Square.
“We felt like if we’re going to preserve the life of the Superdome and have it remain competitive for another 20, 25 years, then we need to do something transformative,” said Doug Thornton, vice-president of stadiums for SMG, which manages the Superdome for the state. “We’re changing the infrastructure compared to what we’ve done in the past (renovations). It’s not just putting lipstick on it.”
Officials believe the renovation would be substantially cheaper than developing a new stadium, a proposal they feel has little political or public support in Louisiana. Saints president Dennis Lauscha said: “The building has to be modernised so we can improve the fan experience. This is basically a wash for us financially.
“This building is iconic. This building was built in the ’70s… I don’t think we could build a building the calibre of the Superdome for $1.8bn.”
If approved, the four-phase project would commence in January 2020 with a view to being completed for the Superdome’s staging of Super Bowl LVIII in 2024.