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Superdome's memorable finish

Sports | The massive dome in downtown New Orleans will likely be remembered most for its final task

Issue: "Katrina: Week 2," Sept. 17, 2005

The Louisiana Superdome's last event may have been its noblest. Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco indicated that the Superdome, the now-famed shelter of last resort for victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, likely will be torn down. During its 30-year history, the Superdome hosted the New Orleans Saints, Tulane's football team, numerous Super Bowls, the Sugar Bowl, and the annual Bayou Classic game held between Grambling State and Southern University.

But the massive structure may be most remembered for its final task. Tens of thousands entered the Superdome either before or after Katrina blew through the New Orleans area. During the storm, the roof's white covering was seriously damaged. Katrina's winds cut several holes in the ceiling. But without the dome, an apparently improvised shelter, suffering in the wake of the storm may have been greater.

Many of the Superdome survivors moved from a dome to a dome. After Ms. Blanco ordered the Superdome evacuated after the storm passed and the city flooded, buses began taking survivors to Houston's Astrodome, once termed the Eighth Wonder of the World.

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In the wake of Katrina, the Saints, Hornets, and teams from local universities will have to find new homes. Tulane has already worked a plan to enroll its student athletes in other universities. But the school's athletic director says the players will represent Tulane this year. Tulane's football team has been enrolled at Louisiana Tech in Ruston but could play in nearby Shreveport.

Saints owner Tom Benson called on the NFL to allow the New Orleans NFL franchise to play its home games on the campus of LSU in Baton Rouge. But the university, flooded with Katrina relief efforts, has already canceled LSU's first home game. The nearby Pete Maravich Assembly Center has been turned from a basketball arena to a massive medical triage operation.

Meanwhile, the Saints continue to practice in San Antonio where, it is rumored, Mr. Benson wanted to move the club permanently before the storm. But now the club owner is saying the right things, at least. Instead of moving the Saints out of the storm-stricken town, he wants the Saints to be "a source of pride and joy in these difficult days."

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