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Is It Time to Replace The Superdome?

If you caught it on social media, you know I was up at 5am this morning. It happens more than I like. While working on things early this morning, I kept hearing the reports about how New Orleans was once again pitching to host another Super Bowl. This one was the 2019 Super bowl. It came down supposedly to Miami (they call it southern Florida because the stadium is almost in Fort Lauderdale), Atlanta, and New Orleans.

When I awoke this afternoon, I saw the social media reports that the “pitch team” was just about to walk in to try to sell New Orleans to the NFL owners gathered to vote on sites through 2021 from what I gathered. Sports reporters all flooding the interwebs (thanks Richard Rollins of Fast and Loud fame) with every move of the New Orleans delegation as the process unfolded.

It was a little exciting, but also wondered in the back of my mind why it was being covered so intensely. I mean, c’mon let’s get serious here. The NFL has a track record over the past few years of only awarding the Super Bowl to markets that have made a major investment, namely a new state of the art stadium, in their team’s long term future. While they would never come out and admit it, they are rewarding the owners who have convinced local and state leaders to dump over a billion dollars into giving a non-profit organization a place to make millions of dollars with more place to eat, drink, and party than the old one.

If memory serves, Tom Benson tried to get this done here before Katrina. He wanted Louisiana to buy him a new house for the Saints. Katrina helped him get one heck of a remodel, but FEMA didn’t spend the money these other markets did to have the NFL’s newest, shiniest playhouse. The fact is, being that the Mercedes Benz Superdome is the home of our beloved boys for the foreseeable future, the presentation team went in with one or two strikes already against them.

Now don’t get this twisted, I love the Saints! I am one of those old school guys that has to have my TV turned down and Jim Henderson on the radio or it just doesn’t seem right when I watch a Saints game. I really don’t have a problem with the age or ability of the facility our team calls home. In fact, again, I don’t think it would feel right to give up the “dome field advantage” by going elsewhere. I’m just being realistic. If you believe the diehard Who Dats, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has it in for Our Boys anyway, just look at the difference in treatment between our team and Tom Brady, right?

Look, almost every sports guy I know started asking the question today, so let’s address the elephant in the room. Will New Orleans have to build a new stadium to get another Super Bowl? The short answer at this time would most likely be yes. However, the real question is, should we even consider this adventure?

Let’s look at the state’s financial situation. We’re facing budget cuts in July that could jeopardize the contracts with the companies running our “safety net” hospital system. The TOPS system that allows some of our state’s best and brightest be able to afford college is being stressed, the standards to use it are being raised to restrict the costs of the program, and we could still see it get gutted if the legislature doesn’t get off its rear and work together to right the still sinking ship. Our public colleges and universities are cut to the bone, and the loss of TOPS would be a disaster for them all.

Those are at the top of the list, but we all know the problems we face go way further into the state budget and affect every state agency. Without some common sense solutions and compromise by the people elected to represent us it could become much worse. We don’t have the ability to pay for the stuff that is already on the table. While it is easy to blame it all on the lack of sound fiscal decisions by the former tenant of the Governor’s Mansion, the fact is there are several factors including the bust of the local oil and gas industry that contributed to this issue.

We need to fix what is wrong with the budget before we begin to look at something as monumental as spending over 1.5 billion dollars to replace something that works just fine the way it is.