More than 40 years ago, the Louisiana Superdome opened to rave reviews, and in the ensuing decades it anchored New Orleans’ downtown as it spurred remarkable economic growth — and many thrilling Saints victories.
The years leading up to the dome’s opening were not so thrilling, however. It cost nearly five times what proponents initially projected and endured countless delays, a spate of scandals and many rounds of political intrigue.
I remember those controversies because I covered some of them; nowadays they’re all but forgotten. What matters today is the Superdome’s enduring place in the hearts of New Orleanians — and its continued relevance (and utility) as one of the nation’s premier sports venues.
Other than the runways, there’s nary a straight line to be found at the new Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport terminal. Instea…
Those old memories spring to mind as I read about the problems plaguing the new billion-dollar terminal still under construction at Louis Armstrong International Airport. Last week we learned that the facility’s official opening remains “this fall” despite the latest snafu — cracks in the drainage system beneath the shiny new structure. Repairs are nearly complete, but they’ve been time-consuming — and expensive.
The state has finished widening Loyola Drive between Interstate 10 and Veterans Memorial Boulevard and adding lanes in both directions, a key …
Then, of course, there’s the challenge of actually getting to the new terminal once it’s open. The obviously necessary flyover connecting it to I-10 wasn’t funded until late in the game, which means getting to the new facility will likely take significantly longer than connecting to the old terminal, at least for a while.
“This fall” is a rather nonspecific opening date, and perhaps that’s on purpose. The new terminal’s opening already has been delayed four times. It was initially set for May 2018 — in time for outgoing Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who pushed through plans to build the new facility, to cut the ribbon.
Alas, that was not to happen.
History repeats itself. Then-Governor John McKeithen, who put his political capital on the line to secure voter approval of the Superdome in the 1960s, was out of office by the time the dome opened in 1975. His successor, Edwin Edwards, got to cut that ribbon — after dealing with some messy details during the dome’s construction. I recall Edwards saying at one point, with equal measures of sarcasm and frustration, “This is John McKeithen’s baby. I’m the one who has to rock the cradle.”
I wonder if Mayor LaToya Cantrell feels the same way about Mitch Landrieu’s baby. I wonder even more if the new terminal will live up to its billing, as the Superdome has.
Don’t get me wrong. New Orleans has needed a new airport since, well, Mitch’s daddy was mayor. I covered meetings about that very topic during Moon Landrieu’s tenure, in fact. Mitch deserves credit for getting the new terminal off the drawing board and into the ground, even if we still don’t know when it’s going to open — or how long it’s going to take us to get there.
Suffice it to say there will be more bumps in the road, literally and figuratively, before we get to drive up to the new facility. Let’s hope the drains work, the planes come and go on time, and the new terminal will prove worth the wait — and the cost. Time will tell.