The game will look a little different for some New Orleans Saints fans this fall.
For some, there will be an up close and personal view at some of those Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas touchdowns in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this season.
That is because of the 12 new field level suites that are currently being built in the north end of the stadium. It’s all part of the second phase of the $450 million renovation to the Dome. Media members got a chance to tour the football field turned construction site Tuesday afternoon, getting a first glance at the field level suites.
“We have 12 suites that are going to bring our fans closer to the action than ever before and really enhance our Dome-field advantage,” said Jen Martindale, vice president of brand strategy for the Saints. “The New Orleans Saints and everyone involved with the Superdome want to keep this venue as competitive as possible for the next 50 years. Not just for our own games, but for all the world class events that come here.”
Each of the 12 suites will hold between 20-24 people, which means between 240-288 people will have access to that area. Martindale said construction is going 24 hours a day to have the suites ready for the Saints’ preseason opener on Aug. 23 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“It may look like there is a lot to be done, but we feel great about it,” Martindale said.
The suites aren’t the only changes that fans will see in the fall. Sight lines have been improved for some suites in upper levels of the Dome. The lighting will be better. There will also be more ADA seats added. Another change, one that fans won’t see, is to the visiting team’s locker room. It will not only be upgraded, but it will also move to the opposite of the building.
The addition of suites, coupled with the elimination of ramps on the east and west side and widening of the concourse areas means some fans will lose seats. Ben Hale, chief operating officer of the Saints, discussed that issue last week in an interview on NewOrleansSaints.com.
“It is not lost on our organization that Saints seats are very personal and many have a family history associated with them,” Hale said. “Losing those seats is very upsetting to those affected and our ticket department and account representatives will work with each season ticket holder to the best ability, treating them with the utmost sincerity and understanding of what this means to them.”
Martindale says a plan is in place to help with those affected by the change as the team is wrapping up its renewal period for season ticket holders.
“Very shortly we will be reaching out to impacted folks and being transparent with them about what inventory is available for them to take advantage of this season,” Martindale said. “If we don’t have something that meets their needs, we are going to place them on a priority wait list. They will not lose their season ticket holder tenure or benefits while they are on that list and while we work aggressively all year round to get them back in the Dome as soon as possible.”
The Saints begin their regular season on Sept. 12 against the Green Bay Packers. The Dome is also scheduled to host events like the Bayou Classic, the New Orleans Bowl and the Allstate Sugar Bowl this season.
“The reality is that as the fan experience evolves, the Dome experience needs to evolve too,” Martindale said.
This article originally appeared on Nola.com on June 15, 2021, and was written by Rod Walker.