Smoothie King Center to get new color scheme _lowres

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Mercedes Benz Superdome and the Smoothie King Arena will be getting a facelift in the coming months.

Both the Smoothie King Center and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome will receive exterior makeovers this year, with the basketball arena getting a new shade of paint and the stadium’s roof scheduled for new coating.

Residents will likely notice changes at the Smoothie King Center, formerly known as the New Orleans Arena, when building manager SMG, much like homeowners preparing to spruce up their property, will begin testing four new colors on the building’s green exterior walls.

SMG Executive Vice President Doug Thornton said the selection team wants to see how the various colors look in natural light during the day and with LED lights shining on them at night.

Thornton wouldn’t say which specific colors are being considered by the selection team, which includes architects, designers, lighting experts and representatives from SMG, the Superdome Commission and the New Orleans Pelicans. But he said the group’s decision is being guided by two principles. The first is to select a color that will not compete with the Superdome. The second is to find a color, likely a neutral tone, that is light enough to reflect the LED lighting also being installed on the building.

Even with those requirements, there are a lot of colors to choose from.

“There’s the grays, the taupes, the browns, the tans,” Thornton said. “In looking at the various color options, the architects and the lighting experts are giving us some guidance on what they think will be the best color option.”

Changing the color of the building from the green associated with the New Orleans Hornets also will help to solidify the team’s new name and the building’s new sponsorship, Thornton said. The Hornets became the Pelicans in April 2013. Smoothie King purchased naming rights to the arena in February.

The paint change is part of a $50 million exterior and interior renovation plan for the arena aimed at relieving the state of having to pay annual subsidies to the basketball team. The interior was renovated before the start of the 2013-14 season to include larger common areas and more diverse dining options.

In addition to a color change, the exterior renovation plan calls for extending the arena’s lobby and reorienting the entrance to face Champions Square.

SMG will try to complete that overhaul between two major concerts expected to draw thousands. The arena will close Aug. 4 after the Justin Timberlake concert and will reopen in time for Katy Perry’s show on Oct. 8.

The Superdome renovation is more modest in comparison to the work that will be done at the Smoothie King Center. Workers will begin recoating the football stadium’s roof in the first week of July.

The project is expected to take two to three months to complete, depending on weather conditions. The work should be finished before the Saints’ first regular-season home game on Sept. 21, construction project manager Pat Tobler said. It is not expected to interfere with the Essence Festival, which will present nightly concerts in the Superdome from July 3 through July 6.

The new coating is intended to protect the roof from microorganisms that settle in tiny crevices and cause the roof to appear discolored, Thornton said.

The new coating should reduce the need to pressure-wash the building so frequently, Tobler said. The roof is now pressure-washed twice a year.

The $1.3 million roof project will be handled by Brazos Industries LLC, the Bryan, Texas-based firm that repaired the Superdome’s roof after Hurricane Katrina. Brazos was one of two firms to bid on the work.

The Saints will pick up $25,000 of the cost. The balance will be paid by the Superdome Commission.

The Superdome roof renovation is part of $3.4 million in capital projects the commission will take on this year. It also will spend $650,000 to make upgrades to Champions Square and club XLIV. The former will receive a concession stand and television monitors, while the latter will get new furniture.

Other projects include carpet replacement on the 200 level of the Superdome and the installation of a curtain in the Smoothie King Center to reduce the seating area for smaller events.