Happy birthday to the Superdome: 40 photos over 40 years - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Happy birthday to the Superdome: 40 photos over 40 years

Photo by Don Williams, 1971;  Photo editing by Don Willie Photo by Don Williams, 1971; Photo editing by Don Willie
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -

On Monday, the Superdome celebrates 40 years as a major feature of New Orleans’ skyline. It remains a stadium unlike any other, but when it was opened 40 years ago, the Dome was unsurpassed.

"Many of the domed stadiums that came after the Superdome - the Metrodome, Silverdome, Kingdome - they are all gone now," said Doug Thornton, vice president of SMG, the company that manages the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The stadium began as the brainchild of David Dixon, a businessman and sports executive who played a key role in the formation of the New Orleans Saints.

Dixon was allegedly told by NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle that the NFL would not expand to New Orleans without an indoor, domed stadium. After winning the support of Louisiana governor John McKeithen, the idea for a ‘Superdome' was born. Legislation to build the Superdome was passed in 1966. It passed by the largest margin in Louisiana's history.

Following numerous delays, construction crews broke ground on the project August 12, 1971. After nearly four years, the Superdome opened its doors on August 3, 1975.

When the dome opened, Bob Hope entertained. And between then and now, there have been countless events that have made the city and the stadium inseparable.

The Superdome has seen a record seven Super Bowls and five NCAA Men's Final Four. Other notable events include:

  • 1978: Muhammad Ali defeats Leon Spinks before 6,500 in the famous "September to Remember."
  • 1981: The Rolling Stones played in front of 87,500. The show held the world record for 33-years as the largest indoor concert in North American history (It was recently broken by George Strait in June).
  • 1987: Pope John Paul II addresses 80,000.
  • 1995: Essence Festival begins, the largest event celebrating African American culture and music in the United States.
  • 2000: NCAA National Championship Game, Florida State Seminoles defeat Virginia Tech Hokies.
  • 2001: NFL Wild Card playoff game, this was the first Saints playoff win in franchise history.
  • 2004: BCS National Championship Game, LSU Tigers defeat Oklahoma Sooners.
  • 2005: Superdome serves as a ‘refuge for last resort' for 30,000 evacuees; dome is closed for 13 months for renovations.
  • 2006: The Superdome re-opens on Sept. 25, 2006 in a nationally televised event. The Saints defeat the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football and ESPN records highest TV ratings in their history.
  • 2008: LSU defeats Ohio State to win its second BCS National Championship title at the Louisiana Superdome.
  • 2011: Superdome undergoes an $85 million renovation to modernize the facility.
  • 2016: Saints win Superbowl? 

The new turf is in for the Saints’ 40th season, and SMG officials say the venerable facility has never looked better.

"There will come a point in time where we have to have a conversation about the Dome. Now is not the time. We don't need to have it for many years," said Thornton.

SMG got its start here in 1977 as the Hyatt management company. The Dome was its first client. SMG now manages 243 entertainment venues across the globe.

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