- Superlative Superdome -

World record: the Louisiana Superdome and the New Orleans Arena, both managed by SMG, are located in downtown New Orleans. The superdome holds the record for attendance at an indoor concert

ou can’t miss the Louisiana Superdome. This multi-purpose indoor stadium, which looks like a giant mushroom cap, is in the heart of downtown New Orleans. The stadium plays host to major sporting events such as the National Football League Super Bowl, concerts, trade shows and exhibitions. It still holds the world record for an audience at an indoor concert – the 87,500-strong crowd at the 1981 Rolling Stones concert.

The Superdome, with a height equivalent to 27 storeys, was completed in 1975 after four years’ construction work. The main arena, with 166,000 square feet of floor space, is the world’s largest steel-constructed room without supporting columns.

The stadium – and its younger sister, the four-year-old New Orleans Arena next door – are important money-spinners for the city. Both are publicly owned, but they are managed privately by SMG, the world’s leading private company managing public assembly facilities. Doug Thornton, SMG’s Regional General Manager, says in the past five years annual revenues from the Superdome have risen from £8.9 million to £11.4 million.

Doug Thornton

Doug Thornton
‘More than any other city, we have a great special-event atmosphere’

The money has enabled two great sports teams, American football’s New Orleans Saints, and basketball’s New Orleans Hornets, to flourish in the city.
“One of the things that makes this facility unique and such a great asset for the city’s economy is the fact that you can host a football match on a Sunday and then have a trade show the following week,” says Mr Thornton. “If it was just a single-purpose sports facility, we would lose out on other possibilities.”

The Superdome was originally managed by the state, but it operated at a loss. SMG took over in 1977; it also manages several other public centres in Louisiana, including the Mahalia Jackson Theatre for the Performing Arts in New Orleans and the Riverside Centroplex in Baton Rouge.

A joint-venture company, owned by the Hyatt Hotel chain and Aramark, one of the world’s largest service companies, SMG operates 98 per cent of the publicly owned exhibition space in North America that is managed by private companies – a total of more than 7.8 million square feet. SMG also manages a number of public arenas around the world, from Oslo’s Spektrum and Toronto’s National Trade Centre to the Manchester Evening News Arena and the London Arena in Britain.

r Thornton says the main reason for the success of the Superdome and its sister arena is simply the location. “The city of New Orleans is a great destination: it’s a real party town. People love coming here; they love the French Quarter, the music, the food. It has a great special-event atmosphere.
“The Superdome’s proximity to the city’s hotel district also makes it a great place for all the different types of event we’ve held over the years, from the Super Bowls to the Papal visit.”

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