NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The Superdome Commission on Wednesday approved a $2 event fee to be tacked onto an existing fee for concerts and touring shows at both the Dome and the Arena.
The vote comes as the Dome prepares for a busy year ahead and some big changes on the way, including the to look of the Superdome.
"We've got a program that will be an upgrade," said Superdome General Manager Allen Freeman.
The commission approved spending $800,000 to remove the old decor in 64-400 level suites and install a new, brighter more open floor plan.
"Hopefully it will be a selling point to the NFL when it comes time to bid for another super bowl," Freeman said.
Dome officials are preparing for a busy 2016, during which bids will be placed for a Super Bowl in 2019.
"Do we have a chance? Yes, are we a frontrunner," said Jay Cicero with the New Orleans Sports Foundation. "I wouldn't say, with new stadiums, but we're in the game."
Much of the new $2 fee will be used for additional security.
"The NBA mandates walk-through metal detectors. Next year, we will see the same thing here at the Superdome," said SMG Vice President Doug Thornton.
Stadium managers will also be building new video screens under a $25 million upgrade program paid for by the Saints.
"They're going to be massive - triple the size of what's already in the building. That work will start right after our last game, which looks like the Sugar Bowl," Freeman said.
Today's votes will likely carry beyond the tenure of the commission itself. All seven commissioners were appointed by outgoing Gov. Bobby Jindal, and may soon be replaced by Governor-elect Edwards.
"I want to thank you all for the effort you've given us," Thornton said.
"I love Louisiana, I love serving, I would entertain it, but I'm not sure," said Superdome Commissioner Julio Melara.
New commissioners will come in to better finances than in years past. Hotel-motel tax revenues are running $2 million over budget, a sign of an improving city tourism picture.
"I remember when I first got on it was at its lowest point, and now it's the highest in its history," Melara said.
The commission on Wednesday also approved extending SMG's contracts with Champions Square, the Alario Center and Zephyr Field to be rolled into their existing contract, which keeps SMG in place through the year 2022.
The new facility fee brings to $4 the amount added to some tickets, but not to Saints and Pelicans games. Superdome officials say at least a dozen other stadiums have similar fees, and they say theirs are at the low end.