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June 22, 2011 - Lighting around the Superdome will be a colorful final touch in renovations

Source: Nola.com. Article by Nakia Hogan.

Already outfitted with sleek new outer panels and 3,400 additional seats, the 36-year-old Superdome, which is in the final stages of an $85 million renovation, is about to shine as bright and become as colorful as it has at any time in its illustrious past.

At its monthly meeting Tuesday afternoon, the LSED -- the board appointed by Gov. Bobby Jindal to plan, finance, construct, develop, maintain and operate six state-owned facilities including the Superdome and the New Orleans Arena -- voted to approve an LED lighting system outside of the Superdome. The system, which will cost about $1.6 million and will be paid for out of the current $85 million renovation budget, will illuminate the outside of the Dome in different colors.

Although the price tag seems costly, Dome officials told LSED members that it will save money over the long haul because it'll reduce the cost of the monthly energy bill.

The lighting will be similar to the temporary system that was in place for the 2006 "Monday Night Football" re-opening of the Superdome.

But Dome officials said this system will be used permanently, and on a nightly basis, reflecting multiple colors off the stadium while further enhancing its place in the New Orleans skyline.

"It's pretty dramatic," said Doug Thornton, the senior vice president of SMG, the company the runs the Superdome and Arena on behalf of the state. "This is all a part of the re-branding of the Dome. We think the Superdome will be a destination for people to see. It will be a very nice change."

Commissioner Robert Bruno was so enamored with the fancy lighting system that he suggested SMG look into adding the features to the New Orleans Arena and Zephyr Field.

"This is a great start," Bruno told SMG officials, "but we should continue to keep up with technology."
The LSED on Tuesday also voted to reimburse the New Orleans Hornets up to $150,000 of the money the team spent on its "I'm In" season-ticket campaign.

In voting to approve the resolution, board chairman Ron Forman said it's in the best interest of the state to help the Hornets market season tickets because of the team's current lease with the state. As part of the deal, the state pays the Hornets as much as $7.5 million if the Hornets fail to reach certain attendance and revenue benchmarks tied to ticket sales.

In March, Gov. Jindal said the state would pay the Hornets just more than $7 million because the team failed to hit its benchmarks one season after the state didn't have to pay it any money.

"The more people we get into the arena, the more revenue we generate, the less money the state has to pay toward keeping a professional team," Forman said.

This spring, the Hornets launched an "I'm In" campaign designed to increase their season-ticket base to 10,000. The campaign, which included commercials and print ads, cost the team about $534,000.

Since kicking off their campaign, the Hornets have pushed their season-ticket totals to about 8,600 for next season, up from 6,300 in 2010-11.

Thornton said he was approached by Hornets officials asking if the LSED would be open to helping with the cost of the campaign. And on Tuesday, Thornton recommended the board approve the payment.

"We have a keen interest in them making the attendance benchmarks No. 1," Thornton said. "And No. 2, the more season tickets that they drive, they fewer dollars that we would have to expend in the inducements."

Added Forman: "It's a good investment for us to make."

There were a couple of other developments at the meeting.

Pat Tobler, the project manager at the Dome, told LSED members that construction crews will turn the stadium back over to SMG officials by Thursday and will be doing just clean-up until the June 28 deadline.

Dome officials said that despite the paltry record of the Arena Football League's VooDoo, it is still generating revenue for the LSED because the team is averaging more than 5,000 fans per game at the New Orleans Arena.

LSED approved CS & Associates as the construction company for the LaSalle Street exterior restrooms.

LSED approved $260,405 to replace old equipment at the Dome.

LSED approved $150,000 for the TPC Louisiana 2012 capital repairs and improvements.