Mardi Gras baseball? Superdome!
While everybody in New Orleans is whooping it up for Mardi Gras, a.k.a. "Carnaval" in Latin America, it's worth asking about the possible use of that venue for late-winter/early-spring exhibition baseball games. "Let the good times roll and play ball!" This year Mardi Gras (also known as "Shrove Tuesday") falls in the early stages of spring training, but since Ash Wednesday and Easter are "movable feasts" (depending on the lunar cycle), in some years it would be more convenient for Major League Baseball teams than in other years. Last September I raised the issue of baseball games in the Superdome, which elicited some intriguing tips, including a YouTube video of the 1987 "Busch Challenge" college series. So that got me to working on a diagram for the Superdome, and it is now sufficiently refined to make public. Ta da-a-a!
The Superdome has a unique solution to the age-old football-vs.-baseball configuration dilemma: they simply retract the entire lower deck along both of the sidelines. That explains why the lower deck in the Superdome is so small compared to most other stadiums. Like the Kingdome in Seattle, it combines a circular perimeter with a more-or-less rectangular interior field shape, though it is actually an "octorad," like in Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego or Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. It is unique in how the symmetry of each deck is slightly different, more oblong in the upper deck.
For the time being, I don't plan on a separate page for the Superdome, since an official major league baseball game has never been played there. Those who are curious can check out superdome.com and stadiumsofnfl.com. I couldn't find any decent 2-D seating charts at the NFL Web site, but there is an interactive 3-D chart of the Superdome at seats3d.com.
UPDATE: There was really never much chance that New Orleans would get a Major League franchise, due to its relatively small population. That's why the baseball configuration is problematic, with very poor sight lines in the upper decks; big league baseball just wasn't regarded as a serious prospect. Surprisingly, however, in the year 1900 New Orleans was the twelfth biggest U.S. city, with 287,104 residents. In the 2000 Census, however, it ranked #31, with 484,674, and of course, after Hurricane Katrina, the population shrank considerably. How long will the Saints remain in the "Big Easy"? The future of professional sports in that marvelous urban center is uncertain...