The Saints Come Marching Back to the Superdome
Even people who are not sports fans were tuned in to ESPN Monday night, September 25, to watch an amazing thing … well, maybe two amazing things. One was the New Orleans Saints, against all odds, stomping the Atlanta Falcons 23-3. Far more notable, though, of course, was the poignancy of the venue, the Louisiana Superdome, or, as many hand-held signs noted, "Home Sweet Dome."
The Superdome in New Orleans became an oft-aired icon of Katrina despair as the last-recourse shelter between August 28 and September 4, 2005, for an estimated 20,000 victims of the hurricane. In the aftermath of the wind, rain, flood, and occupation, the Dome was a shambles.
Designed by New Orleans architecture firm Curtin & Davis, the stadium—completed in 1972 in New Orleans' business district—can still claim the largest fixed dome in the world. After Katrina, though, it was unusable, and the Saints played their entire 2005 schedule elsewhere. Plans for tearing down the Dome and rebuilding stopped at the $600 million price tag. Rebuilding, estimated at $185 million, was questionable, too, especially with the possibility that the team would be moving elsewhere, a move the NFL put on hold as a message: New Orleans has a future.
The rapid renovation of this key New Orleans landmark was nothing short of miraculous, and the inescapable message is one of possibilities. The price tag for the phase-one restoration was about $186 million, with FEMA picking up $115, the state putting in $13, the NFL $15, and a district bond raising another $41 million. So: Is a symbol of recovery worth that kind of money when so many people are still without homes and a basic infrastructure? You'd have to ask the people who want their city back. Through the lens of the ESPN cameras, though, the answer seemed an unreserved "Yes!"
What do you think?