May 302012

A rendering of the proposed Tulane stadium. (via

The second round of debate over the Uptown football stadium proposed by Tulane University is slated to start soon, with the university meeting with the community over design issues next week, and the New Orleans City Planning Commission studying the interim zoning district the week after that.

The June 12 planning commission hearing is not slated to address the specifics of the Tulane project in particular. Instead, the agenda item is “to consider the establishment of an Interim Zoning district, to prohibit the construction of any building or facility within college and university campuses that will result in a building or facility in excess of 250,000 square feet of gross floor area and will cover a footprint of more than 50,000 square feet within any residential zoning district” in older areas of the city.

The issue debated that day will likely be along the same lines as the contentious May meeting in which the City Council proposed the interim zoning district, as planning commissioners decide whether the city should give itself jurisdiction over a stadium-sized project on a university campus. Their decision will come in the form of a recommendation back to the City Council, who will then vote again on the concept. By that time, the council’s June 1 deadline to select a temporary District B council member will have passed, meaning that either the council has reconvened to make a choice or that the selection has fallen to Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

If the interim zoning district passes, Tulane will then have the opportunity to appeal it, which starts yet another round of review — this time, explicitly about the particulars of the Tulane project. Like any other request for a land-use change, the stadium issues will be heard first by the City Planning Commission, then by the City Council.

The interim zoning district “doesn’t mean stop it,” said Kelly Butler, who handles land-use issues in Councilwoman Susan Guidry’s office. “It just means ‘prohibit’ it without further review.”

While that process begins, Tulane will begin rolling out the details of various aspects of its stadium proposal in a series of community meetings. The first will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 6, about the stadium’s “design and usage,” university spokesman Mike Strecker said in an email. The meeting location has been changed to room 201 of Richardson Memorial Hall (just off St. Charles Avenue on the Gibson quad).

Traffic and parking issues will be discussed at 6 p.m. June 18, and the final community meeting is scheduled for July 11.