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Superdome to Reopen on Monday Night Football

Pasadena, Calif. -- Monday Night Football on ESPN will feature another first in its debut season: The third telecast of the season will mark the reopening of the Louisiana Superdome.

"It will be a very special event for our company to be a part of," said John Wildhack, senior vice president of programming acquisition and strategy for ESPN and ABC Sports.

The National Football League game, Sept. 25, will be the first since Hurricane Katrina stripped the venue of most of its roof covering as hundreds huddled inside when the stadium was converted to an evacuation center. It will feature the Atlanta Falcons taking on the New Orleans Saints.

Analyst Joe Theismann told television critics here that he'd go to the city four days in advance of the game to see the recovery for himself, adding that the Superdome contest wouldn't just be a game, but a "public service."

ESPN executives teased the new MNF opening featuring Hank Williams Jr. and a celebrity band with performers ranging from Little Steven Van Zandt to Bootsie Collins and addressed some criticism they'd read predicting that excitable Tony Kornheiser could be the next Dennis Miller in the booth (translation: a disaster).

Play-by-play man Mike Tirico said it is an insult to Kornheiser to mention him in the same breath as Miller, who was short-lived as a member of the MNF ABC broadcast team. Kornheiser is a credentialed writer and a seasoned veteran, Tirico added.