When Alabama defeated Penn State on December 31, 1975, in the Superdome, the game launched a new era for the Sugar Bowl, one that has tracked through four decades of legendary games, coaches and athletes, and one that projects well into the foreseeable future.
The iconic building, now known as the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, which recently celebrated its 40th birthday, has truly risen above its counterparts. While most of the other “early” domes have been demolished or mothballed, the Superdome remains at the pinnacle, continuing to host the largest sporting events in the nation including Super Bowls, Final Fours and college football national championships, as well as the Allstate Sugar Bowl and the New Orleans Saints on an annual basis.
The Superdome stands as one of America’s architectural marvels and has now emerged as Louisiana’s most recognizable landmark. However, in August, 2005, the whole world saw what happened here when Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans. The image of the Superdome with its torn roof, surrounded by flood waters, was a lasting one.
Now that image has transcended into a symbol of the recovery of the city—the rebuilt Superdome with its gleaming white roof and its fabulous night-time glow poised on the threshold of downtown. Those who doubted that it could be done—that the Dome and the city could come back—now see a nine-acre round billboard that has a clear message. The Superdome and New Orleans are back big time.
Following the biggest rebuilding project ever attempted in a major stadium, September 25, 2006, has become a significant date in the history of an historic city. The reopening of the Superdome, with the Saints playing on Monday Night Football, launched a citywide celebration. It was watched by millions on television and provided a lifetime memory for everyone who was present.
They discovered a new Superdome sporting a fresh look with contemporary color schemes, dazzling graphics, state-of-the-art LED video boards and scoreboards, hundreds of flat-screen TVs, bigger and better concession stands, and remodeled suites and reception rooms. The work on the upgrades continued through the 2011 off-season, wrapping up with an $85 million effort capped by the unveiling of the eye-catching lighting capabilities which make the building an even more vivid highlight of the Big Easy skyline. This brings the total amount spent on renovations to $336 million since 2006. In the summer of 2016, another very noticeable upgrade was completed as a pair of 333-foot long state-of-the-art high-definition video boards were installed at each end of the Superdome. The boards, the longest in any NFL stadium, were part of an additional $25 million investment into the building by Saints owner Tom Benson.
While the interior of the ’Dome has seen major updates, one of the more noticeable modifications has been the addition of Champions Square, adjacent to the main structure. Champion Square has provided an outstanding pregame party area for the major events in the Superdome, including the Sugar Bowl, which hosts the Allstate Sugar Bowl Fan Jam in Champions Square each year on game day. A true pedestrian mall, Champions Square features a marquee stage for concerts, including many stand-alone concerts in recent years. A Grand Staircase provides an area for patrons to sit and enjoy food and drinks with a fantastic view of the entertainment on the main stage before funneling them inside the building for the main event.
The Superdome has played a vital role in the city and state for forty years, attracting visitors and national media to the city and keeping New Orleans in the minds of millions. The future of the building remains bright as well, as additional efforts are in progress to continue the facility’s upgrade and to maintain its status as a premier sporting facility.
Since the Louisiana Superdome opened in 1975 with the Saints, Tulane, the Sugar Bowl and the Bayou Classic, there have been a line of memorable events:
Florida State defeats Virginia Tech in the 2000 BCS National Championship; LSU defeats Oklahoma in the 2004 BCS National Championship; LSU defeats Ohio State in the 2008 BCS National Championship game; the 2012 Allstate BCS National Championship will be played on Jan. 9.
College Football Playoff Semifinals
The 2018 Allstate Sugar Bowl (January 1, 2018) will also serve as a College Football Playoff Semifinal with the winner advancing to the College Football Playoff Championship. It will be the second Playoff Semifinal hosted by the Allstate Sugar Bowl in the Superdome. The first was played on January 1, 2015 with Ohio State defeating Alabama in what was, at the time, the highest-rated cable television program of all-time.
Allstate Sugar Bowls
The 84th Sugar Bowl Classic on January 1, 2018 will be the 43rd edition of the game in the Superdome.
College Football Playoff Championships
The city of New Orleans will host the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship on January 13, 2020.
Dallas defeats Denver in Super Bowl XII (1978); Oakland defeats Philadelphia in Super Bowl XV (1981); Chicago defeats New England in Super Bowl XX (1986); San Francisco defeats Denver in Super Bowl XIV (1990); Green Bay defeats New England in Super Bowl XXXI (1997); New England defeats St. Louis in Super Bowl XXXVI (2002); Baltimore defeats San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVII (2013).
NCAA Final Fours
Freshman Michael Jordan sinks the game-winning shot to lift North Carolina over Georgetown in the 1982 Final Four; Indiana defeats Syracuse on Keith Smart’s baseline jumper for the 1987 NCAA title; North Carolina defeats Michigan for the 1993 NCAA Championship; Syracuse and freshman Carmelo Anthony defeat Kansas for the 2003 NCAA Basketball Championship; Kentucky star Anthony Davis earns Most Outstanding Player honors as the Wildcats topped Kansas in the 2012 Men’s Final Four.
Pope John Paul II addresses 80,000 children in 1987.
The Rolling Stones play to 87,500 fans in the world’s largest indoor concert in 1981; Essence Festival, the largest event celebrating African-American music and culture, has been an annual event since 1995
Muhammed Ali defeats Leon Spinks in 1978; Sugar Ray Leonard defeats Roberto Duran in the famous “No Mas” fight in 1980.
The Superdome hosted WrestleMania 30 in 2014 and will again hos the event in 2018.
College Football Games – 320
NFL Games – 313
High School Football Championship Games – 178
College Basketball Games – 200
NBA Games – 164
College Baseball Games – 118
Major League Baseball Games – 26
Super Bowls – 7
NCAA Final Fours – 5