Student project leads to Superdome getting National Register listing Louisiana never wanted _lowres

Advocate photo by SOPHIA GERMER -- Visitors walk to the entrances for the the Greek Step Show and Battle of the Bands between Grambling State University and Southern University at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans in 2015.

Major changes are soon to be coming to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with a planned $450 million renovation, and you might just taste the results. 

One of the main goals of the project will be to overhaul food service standards, according to a report from NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, which will be achieved in part through the construction of a new kitchen. 

The project, which could begin in 2020, will be the first major renovation of the nearly half-century-old building since the repairs that followed Hurricane Katrina. More recently a $40 million renovation completed before the 2016 football season added massive video boards behind each end zone.


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The cooking area and new freight elevators will be relocated to the parking lot of Garage 6, according to the report. Its previous location has been the southeast corner of the stadium along Dave Dixon Drive. 

The new location is expected to allow for faster and more efficient transportation of food, and hopefully a "better food and better food service," Saints president Dennis Lauscha said in the report. 

Centerplate, the company contracted by SMG to handle concessions at the Superdome and Smoothie King Center, has a contract that runs through 2021. The company did not reflect positively in an ESPN study on food safety that reviewed more than 16,000 food-safety inspection reports of professional sports venues from 2016 and 2017. The report also calculated the average number of high-level violations per inspection at each site.

The Smoothie King Center ranked 9th-worst among NBA arena, while the Superdome finished in the middle of the pack for NFL arenas. 

Some indirect implications of the renovation could also come to pass. With the Saints' current deal with Mercedes-Benz ending in the 2021, team officials have begun shopping a naming deal to possible clients. 

The building was opened as the Louisiana Superdome in 1975 and has been under its current Mercedes-Benz sponsorship since 2011. 

Estimated to cost $100 million, the initial phase will also include removing 80,000 square feet of interior ramps and installing a more fan-friendly system of escalators and elevators.  

Standing room-only decks and a new visitor's locker room will also be added, with field-level entrances slated for both the home and road facilities.  

The Saints have agreed to pay a third of the overall costs of the renovation, up to about $150 million, and the LSED will fund $210 million through the issuing of bonds, assuming the State Bond Commission approves its request this summer.

All four phases of the overhaul are expected to be completed before the Superdome hosts Super Bowl LVIII in 2024. The Superdome is also set to host the College Football Playoff national title game in 2020. The Final Four, which crowns the NCAA men’s basketball champion, will be held there in 2022.

Superdome Commission Chairman Kyle France said additional funds, up to the total of $450 million, are still being negotiated with the state. But he said the commission and the Saints are hoping to keep costs in check so any request for taxpayer dollars will be as small as possible.

"We don’t know if we’ll have to go there or not, and hopefully we won’t. We’ll have to see as the project goes along," France said.

Additional funding, if needed, will come directly from the state and is still being negotiated, though Gov. John Bel Edwards has voiced support for the overall project.

Information from The Advocate staff writer Tony Mcauley was used in this report. 

For the full report from NOLA.com, click here