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NFL kicks in $20 million for Superdome repairs

NEW ORLEANS (Jan. 31, 2006) -- The NFL will contribute up to $20 million to the effort to repair the Hurricane-battered Superdome in time for Saints games next season.

The decision was made last week at a league meeting in Orlando after a request by team owner Tom Benson and talks between Superdome officials, the NFL and the team.

"This would be a positive step in the overall rebuilding of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.

The donation followed several weeks of talks, said Superdome spokesman Bill Curl. The effort has also helped identify long-term solutions to keep the Saints in New Orleans, he said.

The Superdome was used as a shelter for between 25,000 and 30,000 people following Hurricane Katrina. Repair costs are estimated at about $140 million and most of that is expected to be covered by the state's insurance and FEMA.

On Monday, FEMA announced it was providing $6.3 million to the Superdome to be used for the removal of standing water and water-related damaged items.

The Superdome's structural frame was not affected by the hurricane. The building lost 70 percent of its roof, however, which resulted in major damage as rain poured into the building.

All of the carpet -- about 53,000 square yards -- must be replaced, as well as 30 percent of the drywall and 15 percent of the ceiling tiles.

Much of the upholstered furniture was damaged by water and mold, including all the furnishings in the box suites. About 35 percent of the seats in the arena had water damage.

Eleven of the Superdome's 38 escalators and six of the 15 elevators will be replaced, along with the building's telephone system and its four main scoreboards.

Officials have said that the facility can be repaired and ready to reopen for games by Nov. 1.

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