My friend Kimbo told me the other day that when she was a child she assumed every NFL city with a dome had a “superdome,” and that it wasn’t until later she learned New Orleans was the only city that had the Superdome.
Funny thing about the Superdome is it’s never looked all that super. In this modern era of the retractable roof and ginormous hi-def screen overlooking the field, the Superdome is not a looker. Its exterior, albeit massive, lacks the pizzazz of the city that birthed it.
The Superdome’s vitality is measured moreso in the glory and pain — both literally and figuratively — New Orleans residents have experienced in its hulking interior.
This includes the Hurricane Katrina aftermath where thousands took to the Dome for refuge from their city under water, only to find more horrors. It also includes simpler times. Inside the Dome, I have heard the roars of a city left for dead and witnessed the tears of men whose prayers of gridiron glory were answered despite long odds.
In a few weeks, the Superdome will no longer be known as just the Superdome. It will be renamed the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, courtesy of a 10-year agreement between the German automaker and the Saints franchise. The renaming ceremony is set for the Oct. 23 game against the Indianapolis Colts, although the car manufacturer’s name is already on the field based on pictures floating across the Internet.
I am not going to argue it is a bad thing the Saints took the undisclosed amount of money on the table and ran. I am happy the state of Louisiana will no longer pay owner Tom Benson $13.8 million, as it did last year, as an incentive to stay there.
No other NFL franchise received millions not tied to stadium-building projects to remain faithful to its state. If there is any state that should not be turning tax dollars over to a football team, it is Louisiana. Hopefully, the money will be used to hire teachers or pave roads, and not end up in a politician’s freezer. I won’t hold my breath.
I also won’t start calling the Superdome the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. It was the Superdome when I was a child and it was the Superdome when I watched from the nosebleeds as the Saints clinched their first Super Bowl berth. And it will remain that way no matter how much money Mercedes Benz spends to convince me otherwise.