New Orleans, LA

Mercedes-Benz Superdome

The famed stadium has installed close to 600 Sloan High-Efficiency Toilet and Urinal fixtures, fitted with Sloan flushometers.
Few structures fall from grace as fast as the Superdome. The home to the New Orleans Saints and host of several Super Bowls drew great media attention immediately following Hurricane Katrina in 2006, but for all the wrong reasons. As residents streamed into the Superdome to escape water that eventually enveloped 90% of the city, the stadium quickly slid into disrepair and became an eyesore.

In June 2011, the stadium—now called the Mercedes-Benz Superdome—reopened upon the completion of its last phase of renovations. Sloan plumbing systems have been installed with each renovation phase with the last showcasing the latest and greatest in Sloan water-efficiency technology.

Scott M. Steindler, senior plumbing and fire protection designer with WDG Architects and Engineers, New Orleans, and Superior Products Inc., Gonzales, La., specified Sloan vitreous china urinal and water closet fixtures with sensor-activated flush valves for the restrooms. Gallo Mechanical in Metairie, La., handled the addition and renovation of 18 restrooms in the stadium, which has a total of 125 million square feet of interior space.

The design team at WDG saw the value and advantages of specifying vitreous china fixtures from Sloan and proposed these fixtures to the Superdome planning department, which has long been supplied with reliable, high-performing flush valves manufactured by Sloan.

“In the past, not many engineers or building owners have liked the idea of having a fixture from another manufacturer with a Sloan valve because they are not designed to go together,” says Sean Hebert, president of Superior Products. “When they heard Sloan had china, and they were the valve of choice, it was met with open arms. They were heavily in favor of going with one manufacturer for china and flush valves.”

For the first phase, the Superdome installed sensor-activated, hardwired Royal® 111 ES-S flushometers. Shortly after putting in the plumbing order for the final phase, the WDG plumbing designer voiced his concern that a power outage could leave the flush valves unusable. This would be an unacceptable problem in such a large public facility, and yet a very possible problem given to how prone the area is to natural disasters and power failures.

“He asked if there was a manual override. That was right about the time we got a sample of TMO (True Mechanical Override) in our office,” Hebert says, adding that the plumbing design engineer “pushed the issue that they should have the TMO.” The manual override, which enables the electronic flush valve to operate manually when there is no power, was so important to the Superdome that they changed their order from standard ES-S valves to the new TMO units.

WDG’s insistence on the TMO feature proved to be wise: In February 2013, a 34-minute power outage disrupted Super Bowl XLVII. Some fans watching from home wondered whether the power outage knocked out sensor-activated toilets, as well as the lights, at the Superdome. Fortunately, with the TMO flush valves in place, the toilets could be operated manually until power was restored.

In addition, WDG and Superior specified plumbing products for Champions Square, a street next to the Superdome that hosts bands, food vendors and more. For Champions Square’s restrooms, Hebert ordered the 0.25 gpf High-Efficiency Urinal (HEU) fixtures and 1.28 gpf High-Efficiency Toilets (HET).

Also connected to the Superdome and Champions Square is Benson Towers, a 20-story office tower owned by New Orleans Saints’ owner Tom Benson. In that building, Superior specified all Sloan vitreous china fixtures as well with battery-powered G2 Optima Plus® flushometers for the 0.25 gpf HEUs and 1.28 gpf HETs.

The Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Champions Square and Benson Towers represent a new chapter in New Orleans’ history and a showcase for just how far the city has advanced since Katrina.

In the past, not many engineers or building owners have liked the idea of having a fixture from another manufacturer with a Sloan valve because they are not designed to go together. When they heard Sloan had china, and they were the valve of choice, it was met with open arms. They were heavily in favor of going with one manufacturer for china and flush valves.

Sean Hebert

President of Superior Products