Tonight's Saints-Falcons game marks the 10th anniversary of the Mercedes Benz Superdome reopening after Hurricane Katrina. Former Governor Kathleen Blanco was instrumental in prioritizing the repair of the football stadium.
Blanco says the building's roof was badly damaged and it was a symbol of despair for New Orleans. The former governor says despite the criticism, she knew they could turn the dome back into a symbol of victory.
“Every square inch of it, the ceiling, the seating, the walls, every square inch of it was now covered with mold and mildew and it was really, really a nasty place.”
Blanco says repairing the stadium in nine months rather than the predicted 2 years was a huge endeavor. She says Saints owner Tom Benson promised if they could open the Superdome before the 2006 season, he wouldn’t move the Saints.
“And he said the NFL did not want to be seen as leaving one of its cities in its most dire moment.”
Blanco faced criticism as many wondered why fix the Superdome when thousands needed help. The former governor says the money could only go into repairs of the building and they received funds from the NFL and FEMA. She says in the end, she received many public apologies.
“But I knew as governor, it was more than just putting a football stadium back together. It was highly symbolic. You know, people here love the Saints whether they’re winning or losing.”