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  • Writer's pictureMatt Colville

Caesars Superdome – New Orleans Saints



Photos by Matt Colville, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.29

Caesars Superdome 1500 Sugar Bowl Dr New Orleans, LA 70112


Year Opened: 1975

Capacity: 72,208

 

Who Dat Nation at Home in the Dome

In New Orleans, home of so many attractions and history, there is one building that stands out above the rest. It has been called one of the most iconic venues in the whole world, hosting seven Superbowls, four college football National Championships, and six Final Fours.


As you approach New Orleans it lurks over the skyline with its iconic gold-shaped silhouette reflecting off the entire Crescent City – it is Caesars Superdome, and since its opening in 1975 has become the fabric of American sports and pop culture, hosting some of the greatest entertainers and some of the biggest events of all time.


The Dome has welcomed everyone from presidential candidates to the Pope; it's hosted everything from WrestleMania to The Rolling Stones. It's the building where Michael Jordan and Tom Brady won their first championships, and it's where Muhammad Ali won his last championship. It's where fans got to witness the greatest ball handler ever, "Pistol" Pete Maravich in his prime, as home to the NBA's New Orleans Jazz from 1975 to 1979.



But since 1975 Caesars Superdome has been home to its most well-known tenant, the New Orleans Saints (for the first eight years of the franchise the Saints played at Tulane Stadium (1967-1974) on the campus of Tulane University). The Saints have had plenty of ups and downs over the years, but one thing is for certain – Caesars Superdome is home to one of the most passionate fanbases in all of sports; on Sundays in the Fall in the Big Easy, Who Dat Nation is "Les Bon Temps Rouler" (letting the good times roll).


Caesars Superdome is the largest fixed supporting dome in the world and is considered the last dome standing, as it has outlived all the other domes that were built during the 70s and 80s. The Superdome has aged quite nicely despite being almost 50 years old and the damage from Hurricane Katrina.


Katrina might have been the saving grace to ensure the Dome will be used for many years to come; there was already talk of replacing the Dome before 2005, but after the devastating storm and the Saints temporary relocation to San Antonio and Baton Rouge, it seemed all but certain that the Dome had seen its last days hosting football.


Ultimately the city's love affair with the Saints prevailed, however, and the Superdome has undergone countless renovations over the last 18 years to bring it up to the standards of some of the most elite sports and entertainment venues in the world.

 

Food & Beverage   4

When you're a building the size of the Superdome you can expect plenty of food and beverage options. Also, you can't come to the culinary capital of New Orleans without thinking of food, and there is plenty of it here. There are 202 concessions points spread out throughout the six different concourse levels, so you can find anything you want to eat or drink. In 2022 Sodexo Live! became the exclusive catering partner to Caesars Superdome and Smoothie King Center – the company is based out of New Orleans and is known for serving authentic southern and Creole dishes.


The 504 Eats stand is the best way to get a taste of New Orleans, with menu items ranging from alligator sausage and fresh gulf shrimp to jambalaya and Ponchatoula strawberries. The 504 Eats section is always popular with locals and visiting fans, but there are plenty of other options to choose from. For example, the Beau Coup BBQ stand offers brisket and pork sandwiches, while Geaux Nuts offers assorted nuts. King's Table and Parish Grill offer the regular fare of hot dogs and popcorn, while Little Caesars has several stands located on the concourse to get pizza.


For another taste of the South stop by the custom nacho stand, which offers seafood and Cajun nachos, or stop by Bayou Kitchen and Market to get alligator jambalaya or a fried gator po’ boy. Bienville Burgers offers custom burgers, while the Delta Roost is the only place in the Dome to get a quality breakfast.   Lastly, Dressed or Not Po’ Boys is another place to get New Orleans-style po’ boys.


As part of their agreement with Sodexo Live! the Saints offers six Provisions Markets throughout the Superdome; the markets are set up like a grocery store deli, where you pick your food and check out at the register like at your local grocery store. They also have wood-fired pan pizzas for sale, and you can also purchase a Saints souvenir cup for $7 and get free refills throughout the game at the many drink stations spread out along the concourse.

 

Atmosphere   5

New Orleans is the ultimate party city, and as you would expect, the festive atmosphere extends to Saints games as well. The action begins early on game day outside at Champions Square, a tailgating area on the east side of the building. Here you'll find jazz or zydeco bands playing on stage, as well as thousands of Saints fans dancing and dressed up in costumes.


Champions Square also features countless bars, pop-up shops, and local food trucks, all backdropped by the New Orleans skyline and giant murals of historic moments in Saints franchise history. Make sure you check out Club XLVI, a premium club now open to the public in Champions Square.



Caesars Superdome is in the middle of a 5-year $400 million renovation, scheduled to be completed in time for the 2024 season. There are eight entrances to the Dome, with the main entrance being the Champions Square entrance at Gate C, where you enter the plaza on the 200 level. In years past the Superdome featured various exhibits at each entrance on the plaza level, for instance, a Hurricane Katrina exhibit at Gate A, Saints Hall of Fame at Gate B, a Louisiana High School football helmet display at Gate E, and a Sugar Bowl exhibit at Gate G.


These displays were removed as part of the renovation, but it would be nice if these exhibits could return in the future. There is also a rather large pro shop that opened during the 2023 season located at the Gate A entrance on the north side, and WWL 870AM, the official radio of the Saints, has its booth set up on the 200 level as well. You can get a good view of former Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert leading the pregame show, and Saints legend Deuce McAllister sometimes even makes an appearance. In 2024 the brand-new Caesars Sportsbook will open on the 200 level, offering fans a chance to bet on games.


For such an old facility the concourses are wide and virtually spotless. The Superdome has six levels, with public seating on the 100, 200, 500, and 600 levels, while the suites and club level take up the 300 and 400 levels. As part of the 2023 renovations they completely gutted the east side concourse and added faster escalators that go all the way to the top of the Dome – there is one long intimidating escalator taking fans from the 200 level to the 500 level, as well as more bars and premium club seats on the east side, including the 40-yard bar that runs on the east side of the plaza level. The escalator goes straight up and was designed to get fans from the lower levels to the 500 and 600 levels in less than a minute. The Saints also installed a standing-room-only party deck at the very top northeast corner.


Once you get in your seats you can tell how massive the Superdome is. Six levels make up the Dome, including 73,208 seats and 165 luxury suites; the ground level has three new clubs for premium seating: Caesars Legacy Club on the east side of the building, Crown Royal Signature Club on the west side, and Mercedes-Benz End Zone Club in the north end zone (the End Zone Club includes suites that are on the field). In 2016 the Saints installed two large state-of-the-art LED videoboards in the end zones that measure 330 feet wide and 35 feet tall, with excellent graphics and replays.

 

Neighborhood   4

To put it quite frankly there is no other city in the world like New Orleans, but there is more than just Bourbon Street and drunken tourists wearing Mardi Gras beads year-round. If you come to New Orleans you'll find a very rich and storied city filled with lots of culture, music, attractions for all ages, and some of the best foods that can only be found here.


The Superdome is nestled among the skyscrapers of the Central Business District (CBD); in this neighborhood, you’ll find mostly high-rise and government buildings, but the CBD also has a few attractions worth checking out. About a mile south is the National World War II Museum, a must-visit in New Orleans and the largest collection of WW2 memorabilia in the country. A few other sites nearby include Harrah's Casino, Saenger Theatre, Southern Contemporary Arts Center, and the Roosevelt Hotel, which houses an amazing Christmas lights display.


Compared to most big cities New Orleans has quite a small metro area, so no matter where you are in the city you are less than 10 miles from all the attractions. The French Quarter is a must-visit when in the city and is about a ten-minute walk from the Dome.


Most people associate the French Quarter with Bourbon Street, but there are so many more sights to see around the Quarter than just Bourbon Street – you can visit Jackson Square, Royal Street, the French Market, Jax Brewery, St. Louis Cathedral, and many more historic sites and museums, while for shopping there is the three-story Riverwalk Marketplace or the upscale Shoppes at Canal Place. It's impossible to list all the restaurants in the city, but must-visits in the French Quarter include Cafe du Monde and Pat O'Brien's, which is famous for its hurricane drinks and dueling pianos.


You can also find upscale bars and restaurants like Galatoire’s, Mothers Restaurant, and the Carousel Bar, and a block south of the Dome you'll find Drew Brees-owned Walk On's, which hosts a Saints pregame party before every game; I saw a lot of fans at Walk On's after the game waiting for traffic to get less congested. There is also a Dave and Buster’s across the street from the Superdome as well.


New Orleans also has a few family-friendly options, including the Aquarium of the Americas located just off the French Quarter on the River; you can also either take a riverboat or a streetcar uptown to visit the Audubon Zoo. The Garden District is also about a ten-minute drive from the Dome, or you can take a tour of the many historic houses, and you may even run into a celebrity or a movie being filmed.   City Park also makes for a great visit for the family as well, just for its gardens and scenic beauty alone.

 

Fans   5

Saints fans can be considered one of the most passionate fanbases in the NFL – according to a 2020 Forbes article, Who Dat Nation ranks as the third most passionate fanbase in all of sports, and to make things even better, the Saints had the highest overall score for fan game day experience according to that article. One thing that makes the fanbase so great is that the Saints are the only NFL team in the region, so the entire Gulf Coast region from Lake Charles to the Florida panhandle, up to Jackson, Mississippi, and Montgomery is considered the Saints market; a whopping 3 out of 4 Louisiana residents consider themselves Saints fans.


This fanbase has suffered through so much over the years, from the days when fans wore bags on their heads that said 'Aint’s', to perhaps the darkest day in New Orleans' history when 30,000 people rode out Hurricane Katrina inside the Superdome as a shelter of last resort, not to mention the countless losing seasons the Saints have gone through. Nevertheless, Who Dat Nation continues to support the franchise, with every home game resulting in a sellout since 2006.


It can get pretty raucous inside Caesars Superdome when the Saints score – Mardi Gras music and "When the Saints Go Marching In" plays over the speakers as the fans go wild dancing and celebrating. The Ying Yang Twins' "Stand Up and Get Crunk!" became the Saints official anthem after their Super Bowl win and is constantly played at Saints games; the Ying Yang Twins performed at halftime of the most recent game I was at.



After Saints wins it's not uncommon for second-line parades and brass bands to form and go marching in the streets of New Orleans – I have never seen a franchise love their team as much as Saints fans. It is also Halloween at every home game, as you will find fans dressed up in various costumes, including several superfans such as Darth Saint (a guy dressed up in a black and gold Darth Vader costume), Santa Saint, Elvis Saint, Moses the Saint, the Bless You Boys (three guys who dress up as popes and bishops), and finally the Whistle Monsta (who wears a giant whistle on his head and whistles really loud – he is responsible for the whistling you hear throughout the game).        

 

Access   3

Getting to Caesars Superdome is easy no matter where you are coming from, as the Dome is one of the first things you’ll see when you get into the city no matter which direction you come from. Interstate 10 is the main way you come into town – if coming from the west use exit 234A onto Clairborne Street, while if coming from the east use the Canal Street exit at 235B. Navigating the one-way streets and aggressive drivers to get to the Dome once in the city may pose some issues, however; New Orleans isn't exactly known for its nice streets, as many of the streets are congested and need lots of upkeep.


There are several parking garages on site but expect to pay around $50 to park if you want to park in the garage or at any of the public lots scattered around the Dome. There are tons of public lots and garages scattered throughout the Central Business District, though, with much cheaper parking than that closer to the Dome.


NOPD has upped patrols in this area due to recent crimes and snatch-and-grabs, so you should have no problem in the daylight hours, as there are tens of thousands of people walking in the streets; just make sure you lock your car. Also, when walking up Poydras Street to the Dome on gameday expect to see multiple jazz bands playing on street corners, and people celebrating in the street like it is Mardi Gras.


Once inside the Superdome, you should have no problem getting around on the wide concourses, as the only backup occurs during halftime; I tested it out, and it only took 17 minutes for me to do a complete walkthrough from one side of Caesars Superdome to the other.

 

Return on Investment   4

There is high demand for Saints games with every game since 2006 resulting in a sellout – there is even a years-long waitlist to get season tickets. I talked to one guy who waited seven years before he got season tickets, and after coming to a game here it is easy to see why.


The Saints haven't exactly been winning a lot of games since Sean Payton and Drew Brees left, but you couldn't tell that here, as it was still a festive atmosphere. You can still find tickets on secondary sites, though; if the Saints are winning expect to pay a decent price, between $50 and $70 to sit in the upper decks, while to sit in the 100 or 200 levels expect to pay a couple of hundred dollars at least.


During the most recent game I was at, the Saints weren't doing too hot so you could find tickets in the upper deck for less than $50, which I consider a great return on investment. There are no other fans in the NFL like Saints fans, and the Superdome is one of the most iconic buildings in the NFL. Plus, you get to visit a city like no other in the world when you come to New Orleans.

 

Extras   5

One extra for the Superdome sitting next door to the Smoothie King Center, home of the NBA's Pelicans.  Though the Saints and Pelicans never play on the same day, there are instances where they play at home on the same weekend, so you may be able to catch an NBA and NFL game back-to-back.


Another extra for all the events and historic moments this iconic building has hosted over the last 48 years. The Dome is also scheduled to host its eighth Super Bowl in 2025, and besides the aforementioned events, the Dome is also home to the annual Bayou Classic between Grambling State and Southern.


It also hosts the Sugar Bowl and New Orleans Bowl every year, as well as the Louisiana high school football State Championships; the Dome was also home to Tulane football until 2014, two arena football teams, and the NBA's New Orleans Jazz. It's hosted MLB and college baseball games, as well as hosted a minor league baseball team in 1977, and in 1976 soccer star Pele played an exhibition match here, as the New York Cosmos took on the Dallas Tornados. Multiple wrestling events have been held here as well, including WrestleMania 30 and 34, and multiple WCW events.


Caesars Superdome has also welcomed several big-time concerts over the years including The Jackson 5, Allman Brothers, Kiss, Prince, Whitney Houston, David Bowie, Janet Jackson, Guns N' Roses, Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd, U2, Celine Dion, Backstreet Boys, N'Sync, Britney Spears, Beyonce, Tim McGraw, Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney, Kevin Hart, Jay-Z, and Taylor Swift.


Another extra for Champions Square and the tailgate area outside the Superdome – Champions Square captures the spirit and culture of New Orleans, and shows just how much the city supports the Saints. The backdrop for the square consists of large banners of signature moments in Saints and Superdome history, including banners of "Pistol" Pete Maravich (a folk hero in Louisiana), Drew Brees holding up the Saints Superbowl trophy, Muhammad Ali knocking out Leon Spinks, and a banner of the late great Saints owner Tom Benson.


There is also a large statue of Tom Benson holding up the Vince Lombardi Trophy located in Champions Square, which makes for a great photo op. At Saints games they also check your tickets at Champions Square, so you are free to walk into and out of the Superdome as many times as you want.


And of course, you can't talk about the Saints without mentioning the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina and the rebirth of the Saints after the storm. When coming to a game here it's hard to imagine what this place looked like in the days after the storm, with even a few people dying inside the Superdome; it's hard to believe his place didn't get condemned.


Nevertheless, one of the most dramatic moments in sports history occurred here on September 25, 2006, the night of the Superdome's re-opening, when Saints safety Steve Gleason blocked a punt in the first quarter of a rivalry win against the Falcons. This would kickstart an improbable run for the team and the Drew Brees-Sean Payton era, culminating four years later in this team winning its first Super Bowl.


That symbolic moment of hope and resilience is captured in a bronze statue of Steve Gleason blocking that punt – located on the southeast side outside the Dome, the large statue is titled "Rebirth". Before Katrina, the Saints had only been to the playoffs five times in 38 years, with only one playoff win, but since Katrina, the Saints have been to the playoffs nine times.



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