NEW ORLEANS - David F. Dixon, who spearheaded the effort to bring professional football to Louisiana, and who was a key figure in the construction of the Louisiana Superdome, has passed away at age 87.
Under Dixon’s watch, NFL exhibition games were played in New Orleans as far back as 1962, and with the help of prominent local and state politicians, helped bring the Saints as an expansion franchise for the 1967 season.
“We extend our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the Dixon family. Today’s loss is a sad day for all of New Orleans,” said Saints owner Tom Benson in a statement. “Mr. Dixon was a distinguished civic leader with a unique vision and he was widely admired around our region as a leader who was dedicated to seeing professional football in New Orleans. We join the people of this city and the Gulf Region in mourning his passing.”
Dixon also conceived the location and unique shape of the Superdome, which was opened in 1975. Prior to that, the Saints and such events as the Sugar Bowl were housed in open-air Tulane Stadium.
Dixon was also a pioneer in the realm of professional sports, helping create World Championship Tennis and the short-lived but memorable United States Football League. The New Orleans Breakers of the USFL called the Superdome home in the spring and summer of 1984.