December 12, 2012 - Dave Dixon Drive Dedicated
"Father of Superdome" honored Wednesday with dedication of Dave Dixon Drive
By Katherine Terrell, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
Motorists driving between the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and the New Orleans Arena in the coming days might notice a new street sign. In reality the sign has been years in the making.
The man who was instrumental in the creation of the Superdome was honored Wednesday with the renaming of a section of Girod Street to Dave Dixon Drive. Dixon, who died in 2010, was recognized in a dedication ceremony attended by family and friends.
"I'm so excited," his widow Mary Dixon said at the dedication service. "Maybe we'll get a bench to put under the sign and just sit there."
Dixon was instrumental in convincing NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle to expand the league into New Orleans in 1966. It was Dixon who walked into Gov. John McKeithen's office and pitched the idea of a domed stadium in New Orleans. At the time, the only such stadium was the Houston Astrodome.
The Superdome has hosted six Super Bowls with a seventh on the way, four BCS championship games and five NCAA Men's Final Fours since its inception. And the financial impact on Louisiana hasn't been small, said Dixon's son, Frank.
The Superdome, which cost $134 million to build, has more than paid back its price, according to a 1995 study by local economist Tim Ryan.
From 1975-95 "the Dome generated over a billion dollars of income for Louisiana residents, over $80 million in revenue for local governments, and over $4.5 billion of new economic activity in the state of Louisiana," Ryan's report said. "When all is said and done, the Louisiana Superdome will go down as one of the wisest investments that the state has ever made."
"I talked to Tim yesterday and he and I agreed it's probably more like $10 to $12 billion today," Frank Dixon said.
Frank Dixon said he's proud and honored to have his dad recognized, recalling 1961, the year his dad began lobbying in earnest to have a football team come to New Orleans. The family was living in Paris at the time, Frank Dixon recalled, and his dad used to sit by the window drafting letters to Rozelle and AFL Commissioner Joe Foss
"I didn't know this, but a few months before, the mayor of New Orleans had asked him to head up a search for getting a pro franchise in New Orleans," Frank Dixon said. "The mayor wanted baseball. My father wanted football. My father eventually convinced the mayor to switch. ... He saw New Orleans as a football town."
Frank Dixon said his father was "a visionary and a dreamer, but a doer as well," noting the Superdome and the Saints as examples. Dave Dixon mostly just wanted the best for a city he loved, his son said.
"My father was a New Orleanian to his toenails," said Frank Dixon. "He always said it that way, and believe me he was. He loved this city so much and probably put 75-80 percent of the energy he had in his life into this state. He just loved New Orleans."