The Louisiana Superdome, home of the National Football League's New Orleans Saints, will receive an US$85 million facelift after the state of Louisiana agreed to fund renovations at the stadium.
The Superdome, the largest fixed dome structure in the world, famously sheltered tens of thousands of people in the aftermath of Hurrican Katrina in 2005. Since then, the 26-floor Dominion Tower and New Orleans Centre mall adjacent to the stadium have stood largely empty. As part of the agreement that has seen the state commit to renovation of the stadium, Saints owner Tom Benson will purchase both in an attempt to revitalise the area.
"I'm putting my money where my mouth is," said Benson. "When we get through, that's going to be a brand new building. The state's going to take a big part of it and then we're going to lease the rest of it."
The deal will see the Saints commit to the Superdome for the next 15 years, a seven-year extension. Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, said: "This new partnership results in a long-term lease agreement with the Saints, plus an innovative investment that will dramatically revitalise the Superdome area."
Despite that, there has been controversy over the state involvement, with State Representative Sam Jones describing the state's deal with Benson as, "a welfare cheque for one of the richest men in Louisiana."