Starting tonight, the recently renamed Mercedes-Benz Superdome will be seen in a totally different light, literally. The 36-year-old stadium has been an iconic symbol of New Orleans for decades and tonight there will be a free-to-the-public lighting ceremony to showcase the $1.6 million LED lighting system that will permanently illuminate the dome.

The ceremony is at 7:15 p.m. tonight at Champion's Square and will be hosted by New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, Superdome commission Chairman Ron Forman and SMG Vice President Doug Thornton.

This is something we have been talking about for quite some time," said Thornton, whose company operates the Dome and the adjacent New Orleans Arena on behalf of the state. "We've always wanted to have a permanent lighting system on the Dome that could really be something special.

For us this is all about creating an exciting new profile and image for the Superdome. This is all apart of the rebranding of the facility since Katrina. With the new imaging of the facility and all the renovations that have been done here we basically have a new stadium now. And what better way to showcase it than to have the lights out there.


The lighting was part of the recent $85 million Superdome renovation budget and will be similar to the temporary lighting system that was showcased for the 2006 "Monday Night Football" re-opening of the Superdome after it was devastated along with the entire city by Hurricane Katrina.

Although the price tag seems costly, Dome officials told LSED members at its June meeting that it will save money over the long haul because it'll reduce the cost of the monthly energy bill.

The entire system, when operating in one color, draws only 10 kilowatts of electricity -- the equivalent amount of energy used by a small home. When operated six hours per day every day of the year, no lights will need to be replaced until 2057, according to Dome officials.

Unlike the temporary lighting, this new lighting system will be used permanently. It will light up the entire Superdome every night, reflecting multiple colors and images including the Mercedes-Benz logo using 26,000 LED lights in 288 fixtures that are capable of producing every color of the rainbow.

The New Orleans skyline just got a little bit cooler.

Get a sneak peek with PHOTOS and RAW VIDEO of the new lighting system thanks to WDSU in New Orleans!