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How strong is the Louisiana Superdome Roof?


Aerial photo, roof of the New Orleans Superdome stadium

An aerial view of Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, April 2010. The building is now officially called the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images ©2010 Getty Images
Question: How strong is the Louisiana Superdome Roof?

Now officially named the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the Louisiana Superdome is a New Orleans sports arena designed by Nathaniel "Buster" Curtis of Curtis & Davis and Associated Architects. The contractors were Huber, Hunt & Nichols.

Completed in 1975, the Superdome has been described as the world's largest domed structure in the world (measuring the interior floor area). Fixed dome construction fell from popularity in the 1990s, and several other domed stadiums have closed.

The Louisiana Superdome was designed to resist winds up to 200 miles per hour. However, in August 2005, Hurricane Katrina's 145 mph winds blew away two sections of Superdome roof while more than 10,000 people sought shelter inside. Although the roof needed repair, the Superdome remained structurally sound. Many victims of the hurricane were transported to Reliant Park in Houston, Texas for temporary shelter in the Astrodome. The retractable roof of Reliant Stadium was similarly damaged in 2008 by Hurricane Ike.

Facts About the Superdome

  • Land space: 52 acres (210,000 square meters)
  • Area of roof: 9.7 acres (440,000 square feet)
  • Height: 273 feet (82.3 meters)
  • Dome diameter: of 680 feet (210 meters)
  • Main arena floor: 162,434 square feet
  • Maximum seating: 73,208
  • UBU synthetic turf: 60,000 square feet
  • Construction cost (1971-1975): $134 million
  • Post-Katrina renovations and enhancements: $336 million
  • Host of more Super Bowls than any other stadium: XII, XV, XX, XXIV, XXXI, XXXVI, and XLVII
  • Name: Mercedes-Benz Superdome as of October 4, 2011

Source:Super Bowl Press Kit Feb. 3, 2013, www.superdome.com/uploads/SUPERDOMEMEDIAKIT_12113_SB.pdf [accessed January 27, 2013]

Roof Construction
The roof of the Superdome is steel with a layer of polyurethane and a thin layer of a Dupont waterproofing material called Hypalon. It took 162 days to spray on the Hypalon coating. Read more about the Superdome construction at ballparks.com

The Superdome After Katrina
(Note: Published shortly after Hurricane Katrina, these news articles reflect the damage present at that time. Links to news sites may change or expire without notice.)

The Superdome Reborn
Soon after Hurricane Katrina victims sought shelter in the Louisiana Superdome, the roof damage was repaired and the facility reopened as the home of the New Orleans Saints. Led by Ellerbe Becket, thousands of tons of debris were removed and several upgrades were made to ensure that the Superdome would remain one of the most advanced sports facilities in the United States.

"Never in the history of US stadiums has a facility been so heavily damaged and rebuilt so quickly," claims the Ellerbe Becket website. "One of the keys to success was that Ellerbe Becket had a long-term relationship with SMG [venue management] and the Superdome Commission and had been working pre-Katrina on plans to enhance the building to keep it current with NFL stadium trends. The result is a Superdome that is better than ever." More: Superdome Getting Bigger and Better

Note: AECOM Ellerbe Becket website accessed August 26, 2012.

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