Report: Superdome could open by Nov. 1

Associated Press
Published December 14, 2005

NEW ORLEANS - The Superdome, heavily damaged when Hurricane Katrina hit Aug.29, can be repaired and ready to reopen for major football events by Nov.1, a consultant's report says.

"The Superdome has become the most recognizable symbol of New Orleans," Tim Coulon, chairman of the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition Board, said after a report from the Ellerbe Beckett architecture firm was released. "The rebuilding of the Superdome will represent the rebuilding of the city."

Repair costs are estimated at $140-million, with most expected to be covered by state insurance and FEMA. Extensive improvements to the building will be done at a time with a lower cost.

A Nov.1 opening would allow the Dome to again host the Sugar Bowl, the annual Bayou Classic game between Southern University and Grambling State, the New Orleans Bowl and state high school championships.

The enhancements planned would cover about 20 to 25 percent of the improvements envisioned in a massive renovation, Thornton said. He called it Phase 1, saying Phase 2 would run about $135-million more.

BEARS: Punt returner/wide receiver Bobby Wade was waived. He has had problems with fumbling on special teams.

BILLS: Quarterback J.P. Losman didn't practice because of an injured right shoulder that could force him to miss Saturday's game against Denver.

BRONCOS: A groin injury could keep starting cornerback Darrent Williams out for the rest of the regular season.

GIANTS: Middle linebacker Antonio Pierce has a high ankle sprain and likely will miss Saturday's game against Kansas City. Offensive tackles Luke Petitgout (back spasms) and Kareem McKenzie (strained hamstring) are day to day.

PATRIOTS: Running back Michael Cloud was released and offensive lineman Ross Tucker signed.

STEELERS: Cornerback Deshea Townsend is questionable for Sunday's game at Minnesota with a sprained neck, but does not have a concussion.

OBITUARY: Walt Cudzik, a former NFL and AFL center who was an original member of the Boston Patriots, died Sunday at his Gulf Shores, Ala. home. He was 73. The cause of death was not disclosed.

ARENA FOOTBALL: The Storm signed offensive/defensive lineman Greg Taplin, a former rush end at Michigan State. Taplin, 6 feet 4, 280 pounds, had 129 tackles, 13 sacks, 18 tackles for loss, 15 pressures and eight pass deflections with the Spartans. Berlin selected him in the sixth round of the 2005 NFL Europe free-agent draft.

- Times staff writer Frank Pastor contributed to this report.