Instead of going to football players, they need to go to those who rebuilt the Louisiana Superdome, which in turn should win the comeback arena of the year award.
Never has the Dome seen a better two-minute offense than the forces of humankind that got it ready in just nine months in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed its roof and just about everything inside when it hit New Orleans on Aug. 29, 2005.
Now the 30-year-old Dome, which has been tied in some way to the SEC since it opened in 1975, looks brand new. It stole the show on Monday Night Football last week as the New Orleans Saints shook the new and sturdier roof in a 23-3 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
The Sugar Bowl's old home is back
and better than ever. LSU won the SEC's last national football championship in
the Dome on Jan. 4, 2004.
After having to move to the
smaller, staler and less aesthetically pleasing Georgia Dome last year, the
Sugar Bowl will be back in
The Dome, which hosted SEC teams in the BCS Sugar Bowl in the last five years it had the game and was associated with the league for most of its history before the BCS, is brighter and shinier than ever with 22,000 new seats, new scoreboards, improved suites and the smell of fresh paint and new carpeting everywhere.
And the MVPs are ... Dome vice-president Doug Thornton, a former quarterback at Woodlawn High and McNeese State University; Tim Coulon, chairman of the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District (LSED); attorney Larry Roedel, who represents LSED; Glenn Menard, the Dome's general manager; Jerry Jones, the state of Louisiana's chief architect; and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco.
"They kept saying we did it in 13 months," Jones told John Hill of the Gannett News Service. "But we did it in nine months."
Those are the people that did it,
basically on their own. They did not wait for the federal government. They took
action themselves, and the Sugar Bowl's link to
Just a week after Katrina hit,
Blanco, who struggled in the days after Katrina to think on her feet, as did President Bush, the National Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, did do something right in December. She issued an executive order that was crucial toward speeding up the Dome's rebirth by cutting gobs of red tape. It also streamlined the selection of architects and construction companies.
Had the state gone through the normal process, "We would never have made it," Jones said.
It was Thornton who remained in the Dome throughout the horrible ordeal that 30,000 evacuees lived through for nearly a week after the storm, as Bush and his forces and resources dropped the ball over and over again, as if they were a third-world nation.
Bathrooms overflowed. Power went out. Sewage arose on the Dome field near the goal line. All people could do was be miserable and wait.
"I can't describe the smell," said
Associated Press writer
Somehow, everything was cleaned up.
Somehow, the Dome was rebuilt better than ever. The cost is expected to be $185
million, but that was no gift. The Dome team got most of this money through
FEMA, just as many homeowners in
"I never thought it would look this
good so fast,"
The Saints sold out all of their 68,000 season tickets for their eight home games in the Dome before the season started. There have already been two games played in the Dome. The Saints-Falcons game drew the highest rating in ESPN history with an 11.8 and an audience of nearly 11 million. Tulane played SMU over the weekend. Major college football will be back in the Dome on Jan. 3, 2007.
"The Dome is an iconic symbol for
Glenn Guilbeau covers LSU and the
Southeastern Conference for Gannett News Service. Read him at www.LSUbeat.com or in the Shreveport Times, Monroe
News-Star, Alexandria Daily Town Talk, Lafayette Advertiser,