Lights on at Mercedes' Superdome

by Heather Miller

A free lighting ceremony in New Orleans Thursday night will highlight a new $1.6 million LED lighting system for the Superdome.

The recently named Mercedes Benz Superdome is marking new milestones in its post-Katrina life, overcoming the doubts cast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that left some wondering whether the dome would survive.

The Times-Picayune reports that Thursday night, the public is invited to gather in Champions Square to view a free light show at the dome, designed to show the world its new LED outside lighting system, a permanent array of colors to lure fans to the "iconic 36-year-old" building.

The show is sponsored by Saints owner Tom Benson, Superdome commission Chairman Ron Forman and SMG Senior Vice President Doug Thornton.

The ceremony is at 7:15 p.m. The square opens at 6 p.m.:

"This is something we have been talking about for quite some time," said Thornton, whose company operates the Dome and the adjacent New Orleans Arena on behalf of the state. "We've always wanted to have a permanent lighting system on the Dome that could really be something special.

The entire system, when operating in one color, draws only 10 kilowatts of electricity -- the equivalent amount of energy used by a small home. When operated six hours per day every day of the year, no lights will need to be replaced until 2057, according to Dome officials.

The lighting will be similar to the temporary system that was in place for the 2006 "Monday Night Football" reopening of the Superdome and the first post-9/11 Super Bowl in 2002.

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

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