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Dave Dixon, who fought for NFL in New Orleans, dies at 87

August 8, 2010 |  5:34 pm

Dixon Dave Dixon, who fought to bring an NFL team to New Orleans and was the catalyst behind construction of the Louisiana Superdome, died Sunday. He was 87.

Dixon had been ill since January, said his son, Frank.

Dixon persuaded New Orleans officials to pursue a football franchise rather than baseball in the 1960s. In his autobiography, "The Saints, the Superdome and the Scandal," Dixon wrote that there were strong reasons for the NFL to consider New Orleans, including its mild winter weather, a great football tradition and 80,000-seat Tulane Stadium. Dixon was a Tulane University graduate.

Dixon staged an NFL doubleheader at Tulane Stadium, which drew a near-capacity crowd. New Orleans was awarded the Saints in 1966.

"I think as soon as Tulane agreed to let us use their stadium for an NFL team, I started planning the Superdome," he told the Associated Press in 2002. "I knew having 80,000 people in those neighborhoods 10 times a year was not going to work for long."

The Superdome opened in 1975. But it wasn't until last season that the Saints, a perennial loser, brought home a Super Bowl victory to the city that is still recovering from 2005's Hurricane Katrina.

Dixon "was a distinguished civic leader with a unique vision and he was widely admired around our region as a leader who was dedicated to the development of the Louisiana Superdome," Saints owner Tom Benson said in a statement.

Katrina ripped off part of the Superdome's roof. It also failed miserably as a shelter of last resort when the devastating storm flooded the city. Thousands of people who had nowhere else to go flocked to the stadium. Within days, the building was tattered, and filthy inside from mold, debris and raw sewage.

Over the next year, the Superdome was rebuilt.

-- Associated Press

Photo: David Dixon. Credit: Associated Press