The Mercedes-Benz Superdome is home to arguably the richest sports history of any stadium in the country. Since its opening in 1975, the Superdome has hosted special events including six NFL Super Bowls (more than any other venue, and will host again in 2013), two college football BCS National Championships, five NCAA Men's Basketball Final Fours, and Mohammad Ali's final boxing victory. In addition to major events, the Superdome is the home field for the NFL's New Orleans Saints, NCAA Division I football Tulane Green Wave, the annual college football Sugar Bowl, the annual college football Bayou Classic between Grambling and Southern, and the former home of the NBA's New Orleans Jazz.
In honor of 12/12/12, Stadium Journey counts down the top 12 sports moments in the Superdome's rich history.
1. Super Bowl XXXI: January 26, 1997 - Green Bay Packers 25, New England Patriots 21
The greatest moment in one of the NFL's greatest quarterback's career came in Super Bowl XXXI as young gunslinger Brett Favre led the Green Bay Packers to a 25-21 win over Drew Bledsoe and the New England Patriots. It was Desmond Howard, not Brett Favre, however who would be named the game's MVP (and first ever special teams player to do so) behind 244 total special teams yards which included a 99 yard kickoff return that sealed the win for the Packers late in the third quarter.
2. NFC Championship: January 24, 2010 - New Orleans Saints 31, Minnesota Vikings 28
New Orleans has watched six NFL teams host the Lombardi trophy but the sweetest moment for the area locals is no doubt watching their beloved Saints shed years of losing records in their victory over Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings en route to a Super Bowl berth. Favre had a chance at yet another great Super Dome moment but threw an interception on the final drive in the fourth quarter, a throw which would lead to the Saints winning the overtime coin toss, Drew Brees leading the Saints into field goal range, and Garrett Hartley topping Tom Dempsey's NFL-record 63 yard field for the greatest kick in New Orleans Saints history.
3. Super Bowl XX: January 26, 1986 - Chicago Bears 46, New England Patriots 10
In one of the most memorable Super Bowl's ever, Mike Ditka and his Chicago Bears did the Super Bowl Shuffle into Super Bowl XX in a championship matchup with the New England Patriots in the Big Easy. The Bears, led by NFL great Walter Payton, a touchdown dive by William "Refrigerator" Perry, and a Super Bowl record two rushing touchdowns by quarterback Jim McMahon, torched the Patriots by a then record 36 point margin.
4. Saints Return Home: September 25, 2006 - New Orleans Saints 23, Atlanta Falcons 3
If the 2010 NFC Championship is the greatest sports moment for area locals, the 2006 return to the Superdome by their beloved New Orleans Saints is a close second. A year after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans and forced the Saints to play home games in San Antonio, New York, and Baton Rouge, the Saints returned home to a rebuilt Superdome and knocked-out their historic rival Atlanta Falcons. There's unlikely another game as unique and passion-filled in NFL history.
5. BCS National Championship: January 7, 2008 - LSU 38, Ohio State 24
The Superdome has hosted two BCS Championship games but none as special as the 2008 championship matchup between the home-state LSU Tigers and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Led by quarterback Matt Flynn, running back Jacob Hester, and a relentless defense, the Tigers would roar to the championship, knocking out Todd Boeckman, Chris "Beanie" Wells and the Buckeyes.
6. NCAA Basketball Final Four: March 29, 1982 - North Carolina 63, Georgetown 62
While the Superdome has hosted many great players in the prime of their careers like Joe Montana and Brett Favre in Super Bowls, another sports great bolted onto the scene on his way to becoming the greatest player in NBA history. Michael Jordan, a freshman playing in the shadow of college stars like James Worthy, Sam Perkins, and Patrick Ewing, stole the spotlight by hitting the game-winning jumper with 17 seconds left to lift North Carolina to the NCAA Championship.
7. Super Bowl XXIV: January 28, 1990 - San Francisco 49ers 55, Denver Broncos 10
When it comes to great Super Bowl quarterbacks, there's likely none better than Joe Montana. Montana led the star-studded 49ers including Jerry Rice, John Taylor, and Roger Craig to 55 total points and a route of the John Elway-led Broncos.
8. World Heavyweight Title: September 15, 1978 - Muhammad Ali defeats Leon Spinks
Ali defeated Spinks for his last career win in front of 65,000 fans in the Superdome reclaiming the world heavyweight title for the third time. Ali would retire after the fight, though he would make a brief, but unsuccessful comeback.
9. Super Bowl XXXVI: February 3, 2002 - New England Patriots 20, St. Louis Rams 17
In yet another great Super Bowl moment a young Tom Brady led the New England Patriots into field goal range, setting up Adam Vinatieri for a game winning 48-yard field goal as the clock ticked zero, shocking the favorite Rams led by Kurt Warner.
10. Super Bowl XII: January 15, 1978 - Dallas Cowboys 27, Denver Broncos 10
The first of six (and soon to be seven) Super Bowls hosted in the Superdome was in Super Bowl XII between the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos. Led by Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett, Randy White, and "Too Tall" Jones, the Cowboys easily dispatched the Broncos en route to their second Super Bowl victory.
11. Bayou Classic: November 29, 1975 - Grambling State 33, Southern 17
Hands-down the biggest rivalry game in the state of Louisiana and one of the biggest in the nation, the Superdome first served as home to the annual Bayou Classic between Grambling State and Southern in 1975. Grambling went on to top Southern behind historic head coach Eddie Robinson and future Super Bowl champion quarterback Doug Williams.
12. Tulane's 1998 Perfect Season: November 26, 1998 - Tulane 63, Louisiana Tech 30
Having called the Superdome home since 1974, it's only fitting that the final spot on the Top 12 list belongs to the Tulane Green Wave. Coached by Tommy Bowden and led by star quarterback Shaun King, the Green Wave blew out the in-state Louisiana Tech Bulldogs to complete a perfect 11-0 regular season, their first since 1931.
• Saints First Playoff Win: December 30, 2000 - New Orleans Saints 31, St. Louis Rams 28
• Super Bowl XV: January 25, 1981 - Oakland Raiders 27, Philadelphia Eagles 10
• BCS National Championship: January 9, 2012 - Alabama 21, LSU 0
• Sugar Bowl: January 4, 2004 - LSU 21, Oklahoma 14