The Superdome reopens tonight

So the Superdome, unfortunate symbol of a natural disaster that turned into a catastrophe, is reopening tonight.  The big feature will be the music of U2.

I may be far too cynical for my age, and perhaps dislike of the current US administration is blinding me, but WTF?  Is there anyone in New Orleans who is saying “Thank God the Superdome is OK”?  Was the reconstruction of the home arena of a bunch of men who get paid preposterous amounts of money to throw a ball really the most pressing issue in New Orleans?

Some people are claiming that the reconstruction of the Superdome is a symbol of the reconstruction of the city.  What reconstruction?  The city has seen virtually no real advancements in the year or so since hurricane Katrina.  Besides that, can people who are homeless and jobless actually afford to go see the Saints play?

I realize that the lions share (if not all) of the money spent on the Superdome was very likely private investment, but still.  I can’t be the only one thinking “Just what in the Christ is going on down there?”

Have I lost it?

11 thoughts on “The Superdome reopens tonight

  1. I can see how having the superdome open would be of benefit the NO economy, which right now is nonexistent. It means more visitors to the city, which means money for local businesses such as bars, cafes and hotels.

  2. Slate has a decent piece about this.

    It’s fair to ask why, in a city where vast swaths remain uninhabitable, all this money is being spent to fix a stadium. You won’t hear that question in New Orleans. Merely tolerated for 31 years, the refurbished Superdome has become what it never was before: beloved. Like the World Trade Center, another hulking brute that was once viewed as a downtown eyesore, the Superdome became beautiful only in its hour of peril. Many New Orleanians saw in the Superdome’s travails a metaphor for their own Katrina experience—they too had been battered and abandoned.

    Now, like many homeowners around town, the Dome has pumped out the water, patched the roof, painted the walls, and invited some friends over to celebrate. Even Bono will be there. So, while much of the world will forever associate the Superdome with the horrors of Katrina, for New Orleans it will now become what it was always meant to be: a symbol of renewal. New Orleans knows now that it will never pass Houston and Atlanta to be the South’s leading city. But if they can fix the Dome up after all it endured, then perhaps other things can be fixed as well. Perhaps, after all, the city need not die.

  3. Unfortunately due to mother nature this is only a short term fix.  The only way to save New Orleans is to get swamp land back at the edge, move the city back, figure out a way to bring back the barrier islands in the gulf that are about non-existent now, and get a government that cares about the people to fix up the place.

    Hmm I wonder how much of that is being done…

    Great link Benior, thanks for the find.  I think Slate has a good point.  But it will take more than trying to revive the economy and give NO a symbol to bring the city back.  As LJ puts it, what about the poor?

  4. It sounds rather callous, but I think a lot of the poor are better off elsewhere in places with more opportunity.  Just as the article said, NO isn’t going to be Houston or Atlanta, and a less populous NO will likely have a healthier economy.  Not to mention the matter of guaranteeing people’s safety in low lying areas, which is where many of the poor would be forced to live due to housing prices.

    If NO is to be saved, it’s unlikely that government initiatives to help the economy will do the trick.  Thriving cities recover after catastophes; Chicago’s downtown was destroyed by the fire of 1871, Kobe, Japan suffered a massive earthquake in 1995.  Chicago was on quite the upward trajectory at the time, something that continued after the fire.  Kobe’s manufacturing quickly recovered.  NO has been in decline for some time, a major reversal of fortune is unlikely in any case.

  5. Seems like a case of just say NO to the poor.

    Sorry if this offends those Americans out there but it appears to me that the NO situation, both before and after the hurricane hit, is indicative of a malaise in the American spirit.

    America is supposed to be a super power, whilst in conventional military terms this remains true, the inability of the administration(s) both at local and national levels to manage the evacuation to start with, the relief effort once the dykes were breached and the subsequent lack of effort in reconstructing the areas that needed it the most, tells me that something has changed in the American psyche.

    A further example of this is the site at ground zero, 5 years after the atrocity, there is still a hole in the ground.

    Long before seeing the Olbermann report, it had struck me whenever I saw pictures of ground zero that there was an elephant in the room that no one was talking about, how could the greatest nation on Earth allow such a wound to remain open for so long?

    Of course the site had to be cleared, then an architect and design chosen, but that does not detract from the fact that construction has not even begun, compare that to the Petronas towers that were topped out 3 years after construction began.

  6. I hate to say this, but as much as it is a symbol to the people of New Orleans, its also a waste of time and money. Take for example the city of Galveston, Texas. The 1900 hurricane that struck the city is listed as the deadliest natural disaster in US history with an estimated 6,000-12,000 killed. The official estimate sits at roughly 10,550. The point being, the entire city was leveled except for two buildings and the entire area under at least 10 feet of water. Within a year the city was already recovering with 90% of the debris removed and a new seawall under construction. The entire construction effort would not be complete for several years, mainly due to the entire city’s elevation artifically increased by almost 12 feet, but the city had fully recovered within five years. Surmise to say, it a city the size of Galveston could recover from losing 25% of its entire population and its entire infrastructure within five years with only the technology that existed 100 years ago, it is certainly possible that New Orleans could show greater signs of recovery by now. Granted, there are extenuating circumstances, such as a much larger population and other factors, but these could easily be countered by a lower number of deaths, advanced technology…..essentially all the opportunities afforder by over 100 years of technological development. I had pitied New Orleans for sometime until I heard firsthand from a brother of mine who volunteered for relief efforts and from several of the SeaBees I work with who deployed to the area of just how pathetic the city really was. Their opinion was that a large part of the disaster was not only incompetence, but most said that the residents simply did not care. I was raised to believe that when you fall, you pull yourself up by your bootstraps, but apparently its far more common to find “I’m a victim so give me money” in New Orleans these days. What a waste.

  7. I think with regards to the Gulf Coast, not just NO, one has to consider the scale involved as well.  The area of devestation is huge, there will be competition for trained workers which means those able to pay better wages will get them, i.e. businesses and the wealthy.  You also have to consider that many poor people do not have homeowner’s insurance, and may be waiting on the Feds to cut them a check.  Many people with insurance may be fighting it out with the company: was the building destroyed by an act of God or was it water damage?  If you think insurance companies and their lawyers aren’t weasels enough to try that sort of reasoning, I’ve got some waterfront property in Louisiana to sell you.

    Compounding the problem could be that many of the properties are effectively abandoned, their former residents now living more or less permanently in Houston and Atlanta.  If you’ve lost everything, didn’t have much to begin with, why bother rebuilding when another hurricane is going to destroy it again?  Why not start over someplace else, create a new life?

    Oh, and you “boot-strappers,” how about you start over with nothing at all, just to prove it can be done.  Make sure to keep copious notes.  I’m not saying it can’t be done, but I’ll bet it is a lot harder than you think it is.  Make sure you have nothing but the clothes on your back.  No begging allowed, but perhaps you can come up with a business plan on the side of a cardboard box and secure investment with it.

    I’m not saying there aren’t some lazy people there.  I’m sure there are, there are lazy people everywhere.  I just don’t like blanket (motivational) statements.

  8. I am an avid football fan (Canadian and American). The theme throughout the pregame show, the game and postgame (many local celeb interviews) was come to N.O. we cannot rebuild without a continuing economy and tourists are #1.  The theme “Louisiana needs YOU the American tourist to help rebuid” was repeated many times.
    You can bet that for every home game this season that will continue.

  9. As for the “bootstrappers” comment, I know what the hell I’m talking about. My mother had six children whom she raised by herself because my father was what you would call a “dead-beat” dad. Two of her daughters, my sisters died; one shortly after birth, and one when she was 18 from complications of cystic fibrosis and diabetes. On top of all that, not one goddamn person was willing to help her through it. No child support, no charities. I personally remember living in state parks at least twice in my life but we did it. I never said it was easy, but if she could do it, then these people can too. You know what the difference between my mother and a lot of these people is? She never expected help. She never thought it was owed her by anyone. She went from the Marine Corps, to working for Canyon Air Drilling, to waitressing, to cleaning houses, and every other god awful shitty job you can imagine, but she did it because that’s what it took.

  10. Apologies for being a bit “preachy”. I think the original point of the entry was that it seems a bit ridiculous to spend so much money on the Superdome when it could easily be spent elsewhere. To that end. Loosing everything when you didn’t have much to begin with is an absolutely horrible thing to suffer through. There are, of course, difficulties inherent in picking up the pieces when there are so many, but I still don’t believe that’s an excuse for not trying. That’s not to say that the individuals concerned aren’t, but to say that after a year, almost nothing has been accomplished weighs heavily against it. In this case, specifically, its not as though the New Orleans evacuees have been completely helpless. Countless federal and state agencies worked to provide them with food, housing, medical care, and job assistance programs so they aren’t entirely helpless. That being said, when you’re given a leg up, at some point its your responsibility to lift your other foot.

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