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Yulman, Benson, Glazer step up for Tulane stadium project

By 2014, Tulane football will return to campus for the first time in four decades.

Tulane moved from Tulane Stadium to the Louisiana Superdome in 1975. Now, a new Tulane Stadium with a different name will bring the Green Wave home in less than two years.

Tulane made the announcement of three major donors and unveiled several other names as significant contributors to the project at a Thursday news conference.

Richard and Janet Yulman donated $15 million toward the $55 million project to claim naming rights to what will be known as Yulman Stadium. Yulman is the retired chairman and owner of mattress manufacturing giant Serta International and serves as a member of the Board of Tulane, the university governing body.

Yulman could not hide his pride and enthusiasm in the project.

"My wife and I are so happy to be here today and so honored that Tulane's new Stadium will bear our family name," Yulman said. "Tulane Stadium has a storied history and it belongs back here on campus We are glad to help bring it back home again. With a new stadium, a new coach, C.J. and a new spirit, Tulane football is in a very good place and our family is very proud to be part of it."

Yulman made it clear that the investment was not just for Tulane.

"One of the most appealing aspects of the stadium project is what it will mean to the New Orleans community," said Yulman. "When the future of Tulane is bright, so is the future of New Orleans. Yulman Stadium underscores this connection between the city and the university. Local schools and community organizations will have an opportunity to enjoy the wonderful facilities at Yulman Stadium."

How many events and what kind of events, outside of Tulane athletics, will take place at the new facility remains unclear, a source of discussion among concerned neighbors and the university. There is a blatant need for additional football stadiums in the metro New Orleans area to house high school football games, which take place on Thursday afternoons, Thursday nights, Friday afternoons, Friday nights, Saturday afternoons and Saturday nights. According to the official release, the facility will provide an opportunity local high school fans to view "an occasional game" at Yulman Stadium.

Yulman serves as chairman of the Greater Miami Jewish Foundation Philanthropic Fund and vice president of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.

While the stadium will bear the Yulman name, the field will bear a familiar name, restoring the ties between the New Orleans Saints and Tulane University.

Saints owner Tom Benson and his wife, Gayle, donated $7.5 to the project and the field will be called Benson Field.

The New Orleans Saints played their first eight seasons (1967-1974) at Tulane Stadium before moving to the Superdome.

It was a tremendous day of giving back for Benson. Earlier in the day, it was announced that Benson had donated $10 million to Brother Martin High School. Benson is a graduate of St. Aloysius, which merged with Cor Jesu to become Brother Martin High School and he knew Brother Martin Hernandez, for whom the current school is known, very well. Johnson's connection to the Saints and Benson's affection for Johnson proved to be vital in Benson jumping on board.

The Club space at Yulman Stadium will be titled the Jill H. and Avram A. Glazer Family Club, thanks to a multi-million dollar gift provided by the Glazers. Jill is a Tulane alumnus and a member of the university board and Avram is a member of the university council. Jill has served as chair of the Helluva Hullabaloo Auction that benefits Tulane student-athletes.

University President Scott Cowen made the announcement, along with athletic director Rick Dickson.

The stadium, which has undergone several changes in the midst of many community discussions with concerned neighbors, will have 25,000 seats with a capacity of 30,000. To date, Tulane has raised $45 of the $55 million needed to build it.

At the cavernous Mercedes-Benz Superdome, attendance at Tulane games has dwindled to miniscule numbers in the midst of many losing seasons. Green Wave officials are hoping that the "Field of Dreams" staple will prove to be prophetic with Yulman Stadium--"If you build it, they will come."

For more details on Yulman Stadium, visit www.tulanestadium.com.