Gov. Edwards visited Saints training camp on Monday, even took part briefly in the Saints Quarterback Challenge, before announcing a transformative nearly half billion dollar project to renovate the Merceds-Benz Superdome.
The project is the most expensive overhaul of the stadium that has served as the Saints’ home for the past 44 seasons.
“The state has been working very hard with the Saints as an organization, with the Louisiana Stadium Exposition District, in order to move forward with extensive and needed renovations to the Superdome so that that facility, that venue, will remain competitive for many, many years to come,” Edwards said. “The first piece of the puzzle that needs to come into place — and it should without something unforeseen happening — is Thursday morning, we’re going to have a meeting in Baton Rouge with the bond commission and we expect that they will approve the short-term financing of the renovations, as it relates to the LSED.”
Edwards announced that the Saints, the Louisiana Stadium Exposition District (LDSED) and the state of Louisiana will fund the renovation project. Edwards also said the project would take an anticipated three to four years to complete.
Edwards also expressed how he was hopeful that this announced project would help keep the Saints in New Orleans — expanding the lease agreement by 30 years. The current agreement expires in 2025 which would be the 50th anniversary of the Superdome.
“And this is going to create just a tremendous atmosphere for decades to come,” Edwards said. “For the fan experience, it will help us to make sure that we keep the Saints here for the long term. They’re not just the best tenant for the Superdome, they’re the best tenant for the state of Louisiana. We’re working also on a long-term extension of the Saints, keeping them here another 15 years, and with framework in place for another 15 beyond that. So the goal is the to have the Saints here for 30 more years.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to do that. We don’t think there’s a better place in the world for the Saints. We’re excited about what the Saints are doing for Louisiana, for New Orleans. Also the Pelicans. There’s an energy, there’s an excitement around these organizations that, quite frankly, isn’t just the best that we’ve ever seen here in New Orleans and Louisiana, it’s among the best anywhere in the country. So I just wanted the people to know the state of Louisiana, we’re doing what we can — working with the Saints, working with LSED — to make sure that this is something we can continue to enjoy and derive tremendous benefit from for a very long time to come.”
The last massive renovation project for the Superdome occurred in the five-plus years following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The cost of those renovations were an estimated $336 million.