New Orleans, LA – The Mercedes-Benz Superdome is already sporting company signs on the field and throughout the seating areas. More are expected to appear on the outside, too. And city, state and business leaders are celebrating.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was first at the podium placed on the field to speak of the partnership that he says is more than a sports story.
"I know that six years seems like a very long time. But the entire world, not just the entire country watched the Superdome. People all over the country, people all over the world, wondered what would happen to this magnificent, historic building. I think not only the renovations, not only the Super Bowl Championship, but today's announcement of this long-term agreement with Mercedes-Benz sends an undeniable message to the entire country, to the entire world, that New Orleans is coming back better and stronger than we were even before Katrina."
The president and chief executive officer of Mercedes-Benz USA says it's the first naming-rights deal the company has made in the United States. Ernst Lieb says it's a natural partnership for the American market.
"I'm only five years in the US. Obviously, American football is not something I grew up with. But to see the set-up, to see determination, the focus, the motivation, the detail, the teamwork which goes into this. It really, really impressed me."
Team owner Tom Benson, who owns Mercedes-Benz dealerships in New Orleans and San Antonio, Texas, says it was his wife, Gayle, who first mentioned the idea. Now the company has its name liked with the Superdome for 10 years. It did not disclose how much it was paying, but officials say it's enough to relieve the state of using tax funds for the stadium. High-profile events coming up include next year's N-C-A-A Final Four and the 2013 Super Bowl.
For WWNO, I'm Eileen Fleming