On this day in 1966 voters in the state of Louisiana voted yes to amend the Louisiana Constitution to allow the Superdome to be built. This amendment called for a 4% tax on hotel and motel rooms to pay for the domed stadium that was estimated to cost $35 million. This plan was met with staunch opposition from fiscal conservatives who thought that the state had no business financing such a large project. Their concerns were not heard over the excitement of the NFL’s decision to award the city of New Orleans with their very own football team a week before the vote was cast. The vote to create the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District was approved with 76% of the vote. Until construction was completed, the newly formed New Orleans Saints would play at the Tulane Stadium, located in the Uptown neighborhood.
Four architecture firms were contracted to build the Superdome: Curtis and Associated Architects, Inc., Edward B. Silverstein and Associates, Noah, Norman and Nolan Architects, and Sverdrup & Parcel and Associates, Inc. The building rests on 2100 concrete pilings that were driven 165 feet below the ground. The domed roof which is lifted to a height of 273 feet and a width of 680 feet was put in the care of Roof Structures, Inc. of St. Louis, Missouri. The project is estimated to have cost $134 million, exceeding its estimated projected cost by $100 million.
The Superdome opened its doors August 3rd 1975 and since that time has hosted seven Super Bowls, five Men’s Final Four Basketball matchups, various boxing matches, large concerts, a visit by Pope John Paul II, and WrestleMania XXX. The stadium was used as a shelter of last resort for citizens of New Orleans during Katrina in 2005. During the storm extensive damages occurred, and it cost $185 million to repair it in time for the Saints home opener against the Atlanta Falcons on September 25th 2006. (The New Orleans Saints won, with a score of 23-03.)
Despite early opposition to the building of this stadium, one can hardly imagine New Orleans without the Superdome (or the Saints).