NEW ORLEANS - The Caesars Superdome appears to have survived Hurricane Ida without any major structural damage, according to Doug Thornton, the vice president of stadiums for ASM Global, which manages the stadium for the state.
Superdome general manager Zane Collings and staff conducted a walk-through damage assessment of the facility on Monday morning and initially found only one “little window leak, Thornton said.
“The Dome is fine,” Thornton said. “There’s no major damage that we have found.”
Thornton said the staff has not been able to assess the roof of the stadium yet but said the building did not experience any leaks during the storm on Monday, adding that the roof system is different from the adhesively applied one that infamously failed during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Damage assessments on other parts of the 2 million-square-foot complex were still being conducted on Monday afternoon, Thornton said.
The Superdome is scheduled to play host to the New Orleans Saints’ regular-season opener against the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 12. Thornton said he’s provided updates on the stadium to Saints president Dennis Laucha and expects to have conversations with Saints and NFL officials in the days ahead to determine if the game can be played at the Superdome.
Saints head coach Sean Payton said earlier on Monday that “we haven’t heard anything relative to the opener (with Green Bay). Obviously, we’ll have a Plan B. A lot of things from a priority standpoint are more important for our city We fully anticipate starting the season with Green Bay and the question is where will (the game) be played at.”
In addition to the city-wide power outages in New Orleans, Thornton said there are also major logistical hurdles with securing enough security and game-day staff to conduct a game. A typical NFL game requires a game-day staff of 3,000 people to manage and serve a capacity crowd, he said. A game with limited attendance could be played with roughly half that number of staff, he said.
The Superdome staff is experienced with quick, storm-related turnarounds. In 2008, the Saints played their regular season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Superdome just six days after Hurricane Gustav passed through New Orleans and forced the team to evacuate and practice in Indianapolis.
“It’s too early to determine if we can play the game or not, but from an infrastructure standpoint, we can play a football game,” Thornton said. “We’ve got two weeks to work with, and we’ll have options with the staff. As long as we can get power and water pressure, we’ll play a football game (on Sept. 12). We’re going to find a way.”