Find of the Week: How ‘slightly disturbing’ artist renderings inspired the Superdome

NEW ORLEANS -- News with a Twist has teamed up with the Historic New Orleans Collection to bring you a unique find each week from the museum's vaults.

This week, it's the renderings that led to construction of the Superdome.

The Mercedes-Benz Superdome seats 76,000 people and offers all forms of entertainment as the largest fixed dome structure in the world.

"It's interesting that a city that has no elevation has such an iconic skyline," said Matt Farah, curator for traveling exhibitions at the HNOC.

It wouldn't have been so if it weren't for these colorful, eccentric and, admittedly, slightly disturbing artist renderings of a St. Patrick's Day parade and a circus.

The renderings are from Dave Dixon, the entrepreneur who brought pro football to New Orleans and "really spearheaded the movement that became the building of the Superdome," Farah said.

Brand new and state of the art at the time, the Superdome project began with the demolition of neglected buildings and a cemetery. Construction started in the '60s. The building opened its doors in 1975. It cost $163 million to build.

"The drawings look shockingly like what was actually built," Farah said. "It's very clear that Dave Dixon had a very clear idea of what he wanted to do and his idea is articulated just as the artist renderings show."

New Orleans was in need of much more than a sports arena. Over the years, the Superdome has played host to countless Saints games, several Super Bowls, concerts, Essence Festivals, Mardi Gras balls, and so much more.

In 2005, it became a sanctuary for a storm-ravaged city and its residents, but it's always been there -- a bowl of gumbo, serving up New Orleans flavor to the masses.

"I mean Muhammad Ali ... his last professional win was in the Superdome in the '70s.  The Pope has visited here.  So it can be used for anything," Farah said.

Here's a fun fact for you: The iconic St. Louis Cathedral at Jackson Square can fit inside the dome -- with about 100 feet to spare.

You can see all the Historic New Orleans Collection has to offer by visiting either one of their campuses. The Royal Street campus, including The Shop at The Collection, is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and on Sundays, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Chartres Street campus, including the Williams Research Center and Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art, is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Learn more about the Historic New Orleans Collection here.

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