Done with the Dome

Little did I know it at the time, but ten years ago today marked the last time I have set foot in the Superdome, the giant saucer on Poydras Street in New Orleans’ Central Business District which has been home to the Saints of the National Football League since 1975.

On November 14, 2004, my dad and I went to the Saints’ game vs. the Kansas City Chiefs at what was then known as the Louisiana Superdome. It was the Chiefs’ first visit to New Orleans since 1994, when Joe Montana was Kansas City’s starting quarterback. The matchup was not particularly appetizing. Both the Chiefs and Saints were also-rans in 2004, a battle of two 3-5 teams whose playoff hopes were slim to none.

My dad was a Chiefs and Saints fan dating way back to the 1960s. He attended the Saints’ first regular season game at Tulane Stadium in 1967. John Gilliam returned the opening kickoff vs. the Rams 94 yards for a touchdown, but my dad missed it. He was at a concession stand buying beer.

He attended a Chiefs game in 1968 at Municipal Stadium, driving over 24 hours round trip in the space of less than 36 hours. in that game, Hank Stram put Kansas City in the full house T-formation and ran the ball on nearly every play. The Chiefs beat the Raiders 24-10, Oakland’s only regular season loss that season.

My father’s company, Air Products and Chemicals, had two season ticket accounts. One of these accounts had four seats in one of the most prestigious sections of the building: section 312, row 8. Or in layman’s terms, club level, 50-yard line on the east (visitors’) side. At the time, those seats cost $135 per game. Today, they are $400 per game. That’s not only the price of admission, but the right to mingle in the giant club rooms behind the concourses. The clubs featured upscale food and giant televisions where patrons could watch all of the other games and take a break from the noisy seating areas.

Just as important, the season ticket account included reserved parking in the northwest parking garage under the Superdome. No walking long distances from a parking lot to the stadium.

I was able to use the tickets on more than one occasion to treat friends from LSU to the exclusive seats, including a 2000 game vs. the Broncos when I met Bill Franques, Todd Politz and Shelby Holmes. They were impressed.

My dad usually got the tickets for one game per year. I preferred to go to games when the Saints played an AFC team, since those teams came to New Orleans only once every eight years. The exception to that rule was when the Saints played the Cardinals, my favorite team. That didn’t work so well in 1997, when the Saints won 27-10.

The Chiefs should have beaten the Saints on November 14, 2004. Priest Holmes, the Chiefs’ All-Pro running back, did not play, but reserve Derrick Blaylock enjoyed the best game of his NFL career, rushing for 186 yards. Trent Green threw for 311, and the Chiefs ended the game with 497.

However, Green threw two interceptions, and Kansas City also lost two fumbles, contributing to its downfall. The Saints won the game on a 42-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Brooks to Joe Horn, a former Chief, with 5:35 to play. When Green was intercepted by Orlando Ruff with 1:16 to go, I told dad let’s get out of here. We beat the traffic. Final: Saints 27, Chiefs 20.

I thought I would be back in the Superdome the second weekend of December for the Louisiana High School Athletic Association state football championships. Not only did I not attend those games, I almost wasn’t alive to see December 10 and 11. That story is coming later this week.

About David

I am a sportswriter for a group of weekly newspapers in small towns across northern Kansas. I grew up in New Orleans, went to college at LSU and wandered in the wilderness until Hurricane Katrina finally put me on the path to my current job.

Posted on November 14, 2014, in National Football League and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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