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Saints will return to Superdome on Sept. 24

NEW ORLEANS (Feb. 5, 2006) -- The New Orleans Saints will play the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 24 in the first event scheduled for the Louisiana Superdome since it was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

A mural with the news was completed on the outside of the Superdome just before the start of the Super Bowl in Detroit between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks. The mural contains the date of the game, helmet logos of both teams and a "Go Saints" slogan.

"We are pleased that this historic reopening will feature the annual renewal of the traditional Falcons-Saints rivalry," NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said.

Superdome spokesman Bill Curl confirmed that the game would be the first event of any kind to be held in the venue since Katrina struck on Aug. 29.

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

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 of the furnishings in the box suites. About 35 percent of the seats in the arena had water damage.

The football turf also was damaged by contaminated water and will be replaced, along with several elevators and the four main scoreboards.

Following Katrina, the Saints were forced to relocate to San Antonio and played three "home" games there and four in Baton Rouge, finishing the season 3-13.

The Sept. 24 game will be the third of the season for the Saints. The team plans to play two of its four preseason games next season in the Gulf Coast area. Those sites have not yet been determined.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2006, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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