The Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District (LSED) has approved the first phase of a $450m (£349.5m/€408m) renovation of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, with a construction firm appointed and the first renderings revealed for the project.

LSED, which oversees the home of NFL American football franchise the New Orleans Saints for the state, voted to approve the project yesterday (Thursday), with Louisiana-based Broadmoor named as the construction firm for the first phase, which will largely consist of back-of-house work, building a large kitchen and food-service area and adding exits to prepare for the removal of the ramps inside the Superdome.

The cost of the first phase has been set at around $100m, with Victor Trahan, CEO of Trahan Architects, the design firm for the project, telling NOLA.com that it will act as the “enabling phase” for the more high-profile work to follow from 2021 onwards.

This will include the installation of ticketed standing-room-only areas (SROs). “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,” said Trahan.

The later phases will also see the staggered introduction of three new vertical atriums at the northeast, northwest and southeast corners of the stadium. Trahan said: “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.”

Yesterday’s news came after Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards in August hailed the State Bond Commission’s approval of plans to finance renovations to the Superdome, stating the news represented the first step in locking down the future of the Saints at the stadium.

First reported in May, the $450m renovation is designed to keep the Saints at the Superdome for the foreseeable future and ensure that the stadium keeps pace with the new facilities being developed across the NFL.

The State Bond Commission gave the green light for the LSED to sell up to $350m in bonds to fund the project. 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 total project cost will see the Saints cover up to around $150m, while the LSED will fund $210m through issuing bonds. The state will cover the remaining sum.

Work on the project is expected to begin 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 renovations are planned for completion ahead of the Superdome’s hosting of the 2024 Super Bowl.

The Saints are currently committed to the Superdome through to 2025 and LSED chairman Kyle France told NOLA.com that his organisation remains in talks with stadium operator, ASM Global, over a deal running through to 2035, with an option for a further extension through to 2055. “We’re on the goal line,” France said, referring to the negotiations.

Images: Trahan Architects