Stadium plans spark lively debate

June 8, 2012 5:43 AM

Mary Mouton

It was standing room only on Wednesday (June 6) at the first of three public forums designed to facilitate discussions between Tulane University and neighbors about the new on-campus football stadium.

Participants at forum

Community members gather at one of 14 round tables to develop lists of questions and suggest solutions that they later shared with the audience. (Photos by Paula Burch-Celentano)

The forum was moderated by GBBN Architects, a Cincinnati firm with extensive experience in institutional architecture.

 Representatives of Tulane and surrounding residents jointly selected GBBN to address issues about the 30,000-capacity stadium.

More than 200 people listened to a design presentation by stadium architect Tony Rohr, who answered questions about issues including the feasibility of building the stadium elsewhere on the Tulane campus. Rohr said other uptown campus sites would require demolition of numerous buildings.

He also addressed height issues, pointing out that at least four other buildings on campus are taller than the stadium’s proposed 48 feet. Answering questions about barrier issues, Rohr provided sample illustrations of a proposed wall between the west side of the stadium bordering Audubon Boulevard.

Doug Thornton of SMG/Tobler followed, emphasizing the company’s role as project manager during the planning and construction phases. Thornton strongly refuted the pervasive, unsubstantiated claim that the stadium would host commercial rock concerts. He pointed out that the facility is neither designed nor equipped to host them.

Because of the design limitations of the new stadium, the New Orleans Arena would be a more appealing and cost-effective venue for those kinds of concerts, Thornton said. 

Participants watch slide show at forum

Community forum participants listen to a design presentation by stadium architects.

Participants then convened in roundtable discussions, tasked with identifying issues of concerns and also proposing resolutions. Representatives from each of the 14 tables then presented questions to Tulane officials, including Yvette Jones, executive vice president, and Rick Dickson, athletics director.

Of particular note was Dickson’s response that the stadium would be used primarily for university events, leaving room for only a single high school game during weeks when the Green Wave is playing out of town.

After more than two and a half hours, GBBN moderator Kull told the capacity crowd that issues surrounding location, capacity, seating and use dominated the evening’s discussion, and he pledged to facilitate more discussion in future meetings.

“You have done exceedingly well,” he said, noting that a transcript of the session and additional information will be posted to

The next forum is at 6 p.m. on June 18 at the Audubon Tea Room, 6500 Magazine St.

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Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000