Known as the “Father of the Superdome,” Dave Dixon, Tulane University alumnus and civic activist, first envisioned an enclosed multipurpose mega-arena in New Orleans. A local businessman, philanthropist and visionary, Dixon persevered against seemingly insurmountable odds, overcoming political and legal obstacles to see the fulfillment of his dream.
Dixon traveled the state in the early 60’s, seeking any forum and speaking to all who would listen, drumming up public support for the Superdome. Among his converts: Gov. John McKeithen and key members of the Louisiana legilature.
To prove the city was ready for an NFL expansion team, Dixon promoted two NFL exhibition games at Tulane Stadium. On Nov. 1, 1966 (All Saints Day), the NFL announced an expansion franchise for New Orleans, contingent on a new stadium.
Construction began in 1971 and was completed in 1975. The Superdome has hosted many major events -not all of them sports-related: six Super Bowls, four Final Fours, a presidential nomination (George Bush, 1988 Republican National Convention), a Papal visit (Pope John Paul II in 1987), and a world-record concert crowd (87,500 for the Rolling Stones in 1981).
Dixon was the founder of the United States Football League and World Team Tennis. Now one of the nation’s largest antique and art dealers, he has received numerous awards for his contributions to the community, including the Times-Picayune Loving Cup in 1990 and the national Freedom Foundation Award in 1991. He was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.
What are the programs and initiatives helping our veterans successfully transition to civilian life?
Since 2001, 2.6 million service men and women have been deployed to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Twenty-six percent of Louisiana’s veterans fought in these conflicts. The needs for these veterans are plentiful including securing employment and housing, and dealing with the mental rigors of transitioning from military back to civilian life.
Louisiana Public Square explores the unique programs and initiatives that are helping our state’s younger veterans successfully overcome these challenges on “Louisiana Veterans Back Home” Wednesday, October 24 at 7 p.m. on LPB and in New Orleans on WLAE. (Recording Thursday, October 18.)
Veterans Coming Home is a collaborative, multi-platform public media project between Wisconsin Public Television and Kindling Group in partnership with local stations and other national organizations. Veterans Coming Home is made possible with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.