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Football to Return Uptown: Tulane to Build On-Campus Stadium
by Brad Rhines
If you’ve ever had front row seats at the Superdome, you were probably at a Tulane game. While the Saints have had sold out seasons in the Dome since 2006, Tulane games still struggle to draw crowds, but that could change with today’s announcement that a new Tulane Stadium will be built on campus in time for the 2014 football season.
While Tulane’s reputation is built more on academics than athletics, that’s only part of the reason for such sparse attendance at Green Wave home games. Freshmen and sophomores at Tulane are required to live on campus and are prohibited from having cars, which means students who want to see the team play have to take the streetcar to Poydras then walk to the Dome. It may not sound like much of a commute, but given the team’s lack of success in recent years and the gloomy atmosphere of a half-filled Dome, most students usually find another to spend a Saturday in New Orleans.
At a press conference today, university president Scott Cowen and Tulane athletic staff unveiled plans to build a 30,000-seat stadium on the site of the team’s current practice field. The anticipated cost is $70 million, more than half of which has already been raised.
“it’s all about the home field advantage,” Cowen said.
According to a recent report from Fox 8 much of the funding has come from the Benson family and the Glazer family, which owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Why do the owners of the Saints NFC South rivals want a stadium at Tulane? Avie Glazer, son of Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer, lives in New Orleans with his wife Jill Henkin Glazer, a Tulane alum who also serves on the university’s board.
The old Tulane Stadium was erected in 1926 and was an institution on campus before being demolished in 1980. In addition to hosting TU home games, it was where the Sugar Bowl got its start, hosted three Super Bowls, and was the original home of the Saints, where John Gilliam returned an opening kickoff for 94 yards during the first game of the Saints’ inaugural season.
The news of the stadium follows the recent hire of Curtis Johnson, the Saints receivers coach, as head coach of the Green Wave football team. It also caps off a busy six years, as Tulane worked to recover from the impact of Hurricane Katrina. After closing for the fall semester of 2005, Tulane reopened and reorganized, making controversial decisions to close Newcomb College and the School of Engineering—a decision that outraged the late Ashley Morris and his HBO proxy Creighton Bernette, played by John Goodman.
According to Cowen, “we have now financially recovered from Katrina.” Cowen expects the new stadium to energize not only the student body, but also the rest of the city, saying “it will be an economic driver for the city we all love.”
For more pictures and information, visit the Tulane University Community Stadium website.
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