Louisiana Superdome gets new name and image: Mercedes-Benz
In August 2005, the Louisiana Superdome was the scene of an American tragedy as New Orleans residents fleeing the inundation of the city after Hurricane Katrina huddled in the stadium in the most wretched conditions.
Six people died -- one of them throwing himself from the upper reaches of the stands. There was an attempted rape. The toilets backed up, and children slept amid urine and feces. The electricity failed. Part of the roof blew off.
These days, the Superdome is back, having undergone a $336-million renovation. The hometown Saints have a world championship under their belts. And the Dome will soon be used to invoke a very different kind of experience, the kind in which "modern design meets classic craftsmanship, to transport you in a spacious haven of endearing comfort and enduring quality."
That's right: The Louisiana Superdome will henceforth be known as the "Mercedes-Benz Superdome."
According to the Times-Picayune, officials plan to announce a naming rights agreement with the German luxury car company Tuesday.
"I think this is great for the Saints and great for the state," Gov. Bobby Jindal is quoted as saying.
The deal will apparently be a good one for Louisiana as well, as it's expected to end the state's long-running subsidy of the Saints.
It will also further consolidate the Saints' reputation as the most continental of American football teams. Its fleur-de-lis symbol, evocative of the French monarchy, will apparently now share billing with Mercedes' three-pointed star symbol, which was adopted to hearken Schorndorf-born industrialist Gottlieb Daimler's desire to bring motorized vehicles to land, water and air.
Though New Orleans' French roots are best known to outsiders, this new Teutonic tinge (as Jelly Roll Morton might have put it) is rich with cultural resonance in South Louisiana, where German immigrants (to the French, "Des Allemands") have long been an integral part of the region's multi-culti landscape, making contributions to all sorts of culinary and musical traditions.
-- Richard Fausset
Photo: Fans gather at the newly refurbished Superdome before the Saints' Sept. 25 game against the Atlanta Falcons. Credit: Photo by Chris Graythen / Getty Images