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Superdome standing strong six years after Katrina

Taylor Holland

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The Superdome will play host to its third ever BCS National Championship Game, and first since 2008, when the Alabama Crimson Tide face off against the LSU Tigers on Jan. 9.

Completed in 1975, the Superdome seats 73,208 people and has previously hosted six Super Bowls and four NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Fours, as well as seen Muhammad Ali defeat Leon Spinks and George H. Bush nominated for reelection at the 1988 Republican National Convention.

The University of Alabama was allotted 17,000 tickets to this year’s national championship game, Associate Athletics Director Doug Walker said. The school’s seats will be on the lower left-hand side, near the visitor’s bench. Students will be seated in sections 124 to 127, he said.

It is estimated that between 25,000 and 30,000 people sought protection inside the Superdome following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, despite the massive damage the building sustained, according to a Superdome media kit.

When the doors opened for the first time after the storm, the New Orleans Saints defeated the Atlanta Falcons 23-3 before a national TV audience on Monday Night Football, according to the media kit.

“What visitors will see in the Superdome is major transformational change,” said SMG Senior Vice President Doug Thornton. “After Katrina, we had a strategic vision to recreate the building into an ultra-modern stadium that would accomplish numerous objectives, including reigniting a major economic engine, securing the Saints long-term and returning an icon to the New Orleans skyline.”

The multi-phase project of rebuilding the Superdome cost a total of $336 million, of which $156 million came from FEMA, the kit said.

Since the Superdome reopened in 2006, the events held at the facility have had a total fiscal impact of $4.1 billion on the Louisiana economy, according to a study by the University of New Orleans’s Division of Business Economic Research.

Last October, it was announced that the Saints and Mercedes-Benz had reached an agreement to name the recently renovated building the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

“The Superdome is in the very heart of this city’s history and character – a symbol that says no matter what challenges come before us, we can triumph in the face of overwhelming odds,” said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal in a statement on his website.

Jindal said every time he’s run for governor, LSU has gone to the BCS National Championship in New Orleans and won. The first time he ran, in the year 2003, then-head coach Nick Saban led the Tigers to the title. Although Jindal lost that year’s election, he was victorious in 2007, a year that saw Les Miles lead the team to a championship just months later.

“We’re proud to not only have LSU heading to the BCS National Championship, but also to have the opportunity for the Tigers to play in Louisiana at the Superdome, which will make for a great game for LSU fans and our state,” Jindal said. “Coach Miles and his team have fought hard to get where they are – and I have no doubt on Jan. 9, the nation is going to see some great LSU football.”

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Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894
Superdome standing strong six years after Katrina