I tell you what folks. It was like having a Superbowl game here in September yesterday as the New Orleans Superdome was host to the first home game of the New Orleans’ Saints to be played at “home” in more than two years last night on Monday Night Football.
I take that back.
It was better than a Superbowl game. Because with a Superbowl game, you never have that electrifying emotion that you get with most college games. Instead it’s a corporate base of fans — with only a token representation of the teams who are actually playing.
This was not the case yesterday in New Orleans. Far from it.
Tens of thousands of people began milling around the Superdome starting at 5 in the morning. And the party merely picked up steam as the day wore on.
I must admit. By the time the game started I was a nervous wreck.
No, I didn’t go to the game. I don’t have season tickets, and tickets in the Dome’s “nosebleed” section for the game were going for $500 and up a piece. Forget the good seats. Those were going for $1000 and up. Per ticket.
I figured I’d stay home, chow down on ribs and enjoy ESPN in HD. I was not disappointed. Unbelievable game.
It’s difficult to explain to those who don’t live in the city and who have gone through the last year how important, psychologically, this game was. But it was. For many, it represented a much-needed break in an ongoing struggle to rebuild their homes and their lives. It represented a return to normalcy. The Dome was back. The much-improved Saints were coming home. All was suddenly very right with the world in a place where almost nothing has gone right for more than a year.
As I said in last week’s PBB, a year ago I would have never thought that just one year later there would be football played in that building again. I remember saying, “That building is done. They will never be another football game played in that building.”
Because as we all know, the Superdome last year was the poster child for how not to use a sports stadium as a “shelter of last resort.”
But not only did the Dome reopen yesterday, but after $185 million and a fast-track rebuilding and reconstruction process, the building is now much improved. Better seats, better lighting, state of the art electronics and video, larger concession areas. You name it.
Then there are the Saints.
An honest-to-god quarterback in Drew Brees, Heisman winner Reggie Bush, a defense that stopped the highly-touted run game of the Falcons cold, veteran Deuce McAllister, and a rookie head coach who I only grow more and more impressed with as the weeks go by.
Who Dat. Who Dat. Who Dat Say They Goin’ to Beat Dem Saints?
Not the Falcons.
And not Katrina.