Champions Square Now Open Outside Superdome
A Place to Party" for Saints Fans and Other Sporting Events
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As the 2010 Pro Football season gets underway, the New Orleans Saints reign as Champions of the World. Now, in honor of them and other great moments in sports that took place at the Louisiana Superdome, a public square has been dedicated just outside the famed domed stadium.
Champions Square, a 60,000-square-foot plot encompassing a one-block section of LaSalle Street and part of what was once the New Orleans Centre shopping mall, officially opened on August 21 as the Saints hosted their first home exhibition game of the current season against the Houston Texans. Now, after many years of waiting, Saints fans and others who don't have tickets to the games, have a place to hang out and party and cheer the home team on.
Sponsored by Verizon, the wireless telephone giant, in partnership with the Saints and the State of Louisiana, Champions Square comfortably accommodates up to 8,000 revelers. It is free and easily accessible, thanks to an abundance of convenient nearby parking. It is being envisioned as a festive area similar to other developments of this type around the country, particularly the L.A. Live entertainment complex in downtown Los Angeles adjacent to the Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers NBA basketball team. L.A. Live features apartments, ballrooms, bars, concert theaters, restaurants, movie theaters and a 54-story hotel and condominium tower, and some of these features may eventually be incorporated into the larger plan of the New Orleans developers.
Backers of this project envision having a major sports district open all year round, 24 hours a day, in place by the time the 2013 Super Bowl is played in the Superdome. Until the final phases of the project are completed, Saints fans will at least have a square that features live entertainment, street vendors and some of New Orleans' favorite eateries. Among the food vendors with concessions in the square are Red Fish Grill, Acme Oyster House, Drago's, Bourbon House Seafood, Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse, Wow Café and Wingery, The Praline Connection, Outback Steakhouse and Galatoire's.
Principals involved in the redevelopment see it as a place for families and tourists to come before and after games; a gathering place for visitors as well as New Orleanians.
Wall of Champions
In the three and a half decades since the Superdome was built many historic moments in sports history have taken place there. Muhammad Ali became the first heavyweight boxing champion to win the title three separate times with his September 1978 win over Leon Spinks. In 1982 future NBA great Michael Jordan sank a basket that gave the University of North Carolina the NCAA Championship during a Final Four tournament held in the Dome. Six NFL Super Bowls have taken place there, along with all but one Sugar Bowl game since the stadium opened in 1975. Three BCS National Championship games have been played there, as well as four Final Four tourneys.
Many of these great moments in Superdome and sports history are among the most prominent features of Champions Square. The Wall of Champions displays 30-foot photos of past championship teams and individual champions from the city, including Saints teams that won their division championships and this year's Super Bowl winners. Among those featured are former Saints linebacker Rickey Jackson, a recent inductee to the Pro Football Hall of Fame; Super Bowl XLIV MVP Drew Brees; Muhammad Ali, and Michael Jordan.
A Makeover for the District
Champions Square is the first step in what is expected to be a major redevelopment in the district immediately adjacent to the Superdome. The New Orleans Centre, an urban shopping mall that existed across LaSalle Street from the Dome from the 1990s until 2005 suffered extensive damage during Hurricane Katrina and never reopened. The development of a sports-related entertainment complex on the site of abandoned shopping center, coupled with extensive renovations at the adjacent Hyatt Hotel, is expected to revitalize an area that had fallen victim to urban blight.
In addition to Champions Square, the project's developers are constructing what they term "a grand entrance" to the Superdome via Gate C where an estimated 65% of the fans enter the stadium. This will take the form of an elaborate staircase. Eventually they hope to have an iconic feature at the top of the staircase that will welcome fans and visitors into the stadium.
Pending City Council approval of a street closure, the one-block section of LaSalle Street between Poydras and Girod streets will be permanently closed to vehicular traffic and transformed into an urban mall. The former street will be bricked and outfitted with trees, concessions, kiosks, Saints memorabilia and other amenities. There are also plans to transform the former 6,500-square-foot Macy's store into Club XLIV (commemorating the Saints' victory in Super Bowl 44), a private lounge. For the present time, the square will be open for Saints games with the opportunity to open for other events such as beach volleyball, concerts, mini-festivals and conventions. Rentals of the square for these types of special events and private parties can be arranged.
In the third and final phase of the redevelopment project, a permanent food court is expected to be put into place.
For convenient parking on Saints game days, parking is available in Champions Garage. Accommodating over 2,000 vehicles, Champions Garage is located on Girod Street, just steps away from Champions Square, the Superdome and New Orleans Arena where the NBA New Orleans Pelicans play their home games. For more information, including rates and availability, call (504) 587-3571.
For information about renting Champions Square, please call (504) 587-3663 or (800) 756-7074. You may also email ChampionsSquare@superdome.com.