Superdome announcer Mark Romig sat down with us a few years ago to talk about his second home, the Dome. Here are edited excerpts.
ROUSES: What is your earliest memory of the Superdome?
MARK ROMIG My earliest memory of the Superdome was while it was under construction so when they announced that this big stadium was going to be built in this area of the city that was underdeveloped, it was huge news and I think I was a freshman in high school. I went to Brother Martin and it was the biggest news in the state that they were going to build the biggest stadium in the world. So, I followed the construction like everyone who lived in New Orleans at the time. So, we saw the steel structure go up and I even remember the day they were going to connect the last girder and it was going to be they set it and you could hear it – the settling of the structure – so you could hear it go BOOM and that meant the steel structure for the roof was done and following it all the way until it opened for a Saints game in 1975. It was fantastic. So, I was in the stadium at the very beginning. That’s 40 years ago.
ROUSES: Why is the Superdome important to you?
MARK ROMIG: One it’s part of the family. My dad was the stadium announcer for the Saints when they played at Tulane Stadium. He also announced the Tulane Green Wave for many years, so he was the first stadium announcer when the Superdome opened which meant me, my brothers, my mom, my sisters, we would all go with dad so it became like a family thing to do. We grew up with it. I literally grew up with the dome. And of course, now I’m announcing the Saints games like my dad. Dad did it for 44 years.
But the other thing is the importance of the building to the city’s economy and the state’s economy. It is truly an economic engine, like a factory it produces events with lots of spending around it. People come in and stay at hotels and they’re eating at restaurants and it constantly turning out economic impact for the community and state so it’s a very important part of our economic health.
ROUSES: Can you describe how it feels when you walk into the Superdome on Game Day?
MARK ROMIG: It’s like the big show, right before the curtain goes up, I get there about 4 hours before the game starts. If it’s a noon game I get there around 8 and we go through the script. There is a script for every game. Every minute, every second is measured for a specific announcement a movement on the field, when the teams come out to practice when the flags are brought out, the national anthem. So, we go through the script prior, the video, everything is done in order and with a script. You get butterflies because once the game starts it’s live it’s a very exciting feeling. Plus, when you walk into the dome you are walking into history. So many things have happened in that dome. Concerts like the Rolling Stones, Pope John Paul II said a mass there, the Saints won the National Championship there. You have Mardi Gras parades in there. It’s done everything the creators thought it would do and even more. So, it’s a sense of excitement when you walk in the dome. It’s also cold. They always have the AC on it’s always 10 degrees colder inside than outside.
ROUSES: What was it like for you to see the Superdome for the first time after Katrina?
MARK ROMIG: Like everyone else I had tears in my eyes. Truth be told while they were renovating all the way through August 2006 I was working for Peter Mayer Advertising and the PR dept and we were supporting all of the media around the renovation so I had the opportunity to do a couple of tours while it was being done. But it was a massive undertaking. The gentleman who ran the renovation at the time, Doug Thornton was a master of bringing it all together and having all the pieces fit. Governor Blanco, she was the governor at the time of the state of LA, she made it a priority after Katrina to get the dome open because she thought that more than anything else would be a signal to the rest of the world that we were coming back. So, she pushed it hard. The commissioner of the NFL at the time, Paul Tagliabue was behind it. Mr. Benson was behind it. And so, it got done.
ROUSES: That game against Atlanta – you were at that game.
MARK ROMIG: I was at that game, but I wasn’t announcing it. My dad was announcing it. I was in the stands.
ROUSES: What was it like when Steve Gleason blocked that punt? Was it insane?
MARK ROMIG: It was insane. The crowd must have yelled and screamed for a good 10 minutes. They couldn’t play the game. Everything kind of stopped. I get chills even thinking about it. But it was like we can do this. We can come back as a community. It really was symbolic of the fight that we had all put on since Katrina that we weren’t going to be bowed, we were going to make the community better and the Saints kind of symbolized the fact that we were coming back.