Will take 45-60 days to accurately assess damage.
Talk of the demise of the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans has been greatly exaggerated, according to officials at SMG, the Philadelphia-based management firm that runs the stadium and adjacent New Orleans Arena.
No venue has been more of a focal point during Katrina than the Superdome, which provided refuge for some 24,000 evacuees for six days before they were relocated.
The Superdome, which opened in 1975, suffered so much damage, including losing much of its roof, that some media reports have stated the venue will never re-open.
"Any comment relative to the future of the dome that somebody states with any certainty is not based upon any factual evidence," SMG senior VP of stadiums and arenas Glenn Mon tells Billboard.biz. "First of all, structurally we believe the building is sound."
Mon saw the Superdome firsthand on Labor Day, and says it will take at least 45-60 days to assess the damage. "The dome is damaged, let there be no doubt about it," Mon says. "We've got a couple of large holes in the roof where the ventilation system flew off, obviously the skin blew off and was ripped and torn. We've taken an awful lot of water infiltration into the facility."
In related news, New Orlean's premier music event, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival or Jazz Fest, will return next year, according to Randy Phillips of AEG Live, co-producers of Jazz Fest with Festival Productions Inc. (FPI).
"We are going to do a Jazz Fest in '06," Phillips tells Billboard. "Where, how, with what infrastructure, will all be worked out." Phillips says the event may take place in New Orleans or in a nearby market such as Baton Rouge.