A proposed $450 million renovation to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome is moving forward, as a Louisiana bond commission signed off on financing plans Thursday.
Major upgrades to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome have been discussed for a few years, and a plan is in the works to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into the facility over a multi-year renovation. Under the current financial framework, the New Orleans Saints will contribute $150 million to the project, with $210 million coming from the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District (LSED), and a remaining $90 million coming from the state.
On Thursday, the State Bond Commission unanimously voted to allow the LSED to sell up to $350 million in bonds to finance the project. The multiyear renovation could get underway in early 2020, with the project intended to not only secure a longer lease agreement with the Saints but to keep the Superdome competitive over the long run for major events. More from NOLA.com:
The Saints and the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District, also known as the Superdome Commission, are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding soon to extend the Saints’ lease and allow the first phase of the renovation project to get underway early next year.
The Bond Commission approved the project Thursday after members quizzed Dennis Lauscha, the Saints’ president, and Doug Thornton, executive vice president of SMG, which runs the stadium, about why the spending is needed and how much the state would have to contribute.
Thornton said that alternatives had been studied for more than two years, including various renovations as well as an entirely new stadium. “The Saints’ lease expires in 2025, and we felt it important to address the long-term stadium issue rather than wait,” he said.
Thornton said a team of local and national stadium experts concluded that spending around $2 billion to build a new stadium was too expensive and unnecessary.
Discussions about a long-term lease extension with the Saints are underway, and Thursday’s vote was billed by Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards as being a step that will help finalize the agreement. “Following today’s action, I believe that in short order, we will finalize a long-term lease extension that keeps the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome for many years to come,” Edwards said in a statement issued Thursday. “This is good economic news for the city and our state. Keeping the Saints Home at the Dome will be cause for celebration for current and future generations of Who Dats.”
Image courtesy Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
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