On Tuesday, May 31, the New Orleans Saints administrative staff received a tour and sneak peek of the club's home, the Louisiana Superdome, as an $85 million enhancement and renovation project starts to reach its conclusion by the end of June and in time for the 2011 season.
As soon as the New Orleans Saints concluded their 2010 season and the AllState Sugar Bowl was played in early January, construction crews began tearing out seats on the lower levels and beginning the renovation process.
The most extensive part of this process is a complete reconfiguring of the East and West Side Plaza area of the stadium into a more rectangular design moving away from the prior oval setup that existed since its opening in 1975. In this lower level area, sight lines and views have been significantly improved and approximately 3,400 new seats have been added to the stadium, which are made of leather and have cupholders. The plaza sideline seats will be ten feet closer to the playing field. Another part of the plaza level renovations include the addition of a "party deck" area for patrons located at the North Gate A end zone.
As a result of changes to the seating configuration, advantage can also now be taken of the areas below the seats on the ground level of the stadium. Private entry from the parking garages will now be available with direct access to these plaza seating areas. In addition, two premium ground level club lounges on the east and west sides of the stadium will also open to entertain fans and enhance their gameday experience. Each premium lounge will be over 7,500 square feet, featuring state of the art furnishings, televisions and full-service bars to be able to accommodate and entertain 4,500 fans.
In order to meet the tight deadlines for these changes, the former plaza seats were removed in January, the electrical and plumbing system were then installed in the ground level. Following that, a new slab foundation for the plaza level was installed above the bunker areas.
With the reconfiguration, the newly extended plaza concourses have been widened from 18 feet to over 60 feet. This widening will allow additional restrooms and concession areas to be installed in addition to other amenities, giving fans more extensive choices in food, drink and merchandise in their gameday experience. All the concession areas on this level for the 2011 season will be brand new and completely reconstructed, providing fans with expanded food and beverage options. The number of restrooms on this level have been doubled as well.
Fans were able to enjoy the first phase of this project during the 2010 season, as the press box was relocated from the 300 level of the stadium and reconstructed above the 600 level. In its place 16 new suites were constructed.
In addition to the interior improvements, external enchantments are also taking place at Champions Square, outside the Superdome, as construction crews look to create an elite outdoor entertainment area for fans. After enjoying a successful opening in 2010, a permanent grand staircase is now being installed leading up to the Superdome. The center portion of the grand staircase will provide an area for fans to sit and enjoy food and drink with a view of entertainment on the main stage.
All of these projects were a part of an agreement that the club reached with the State of Louisiana to extend the club's lease in the Superdome through 2025. The combined investment by Saints Owner Tom Benson and the State have modernized and revitalized the Superdome itself and the surrounding area, promising to improve and enhance the fan experience at all events in the stadium, while keeping it competitive with other facilities across the country.