The Pontiac Silverdome indoor sports stadium was located in Pontiac, Michigan. Construction was completed in 1975, and the cost of this huge building came to $55.7 million.
Architect Don Davidson, a local resident of Pontiac and star high school athlete, came to the decision to build a sports complex in 1966. He was eager to help renew the city, and the sports stadium was a significant part of his plan.
In total, the arena could accommodate 80,311 people across 102 luxury suites and 7,384 club seats. In its day, the stadium was the best sports facility in the world with an amazing football stadium. Every detail of its exterior and interior was captured by photographer Johnny Joo. You should check his website for more amazing photographs.
The most famous feature of the stadium was the Teflon-coated inflatable roof. Unfortunately, the builders did not manage to finish the roof in time for the first game of the Detroit Lions in 1975. Following that, there was a strong thunderstorm in the city in the summer of 1976 which caused the roof to partially collapse.
However, a year after opening, the roof was completed, and the stadium got the nickname of “Silverdome” which it ultimately adopted as its own name.
Initially, the Silverdome was a multipurpose stadium where supercrosses, Jehovah’s Witnesses conventions, and a Crusade by Billy Graham were held. But key to the stadium’s success were the regular appearances of the Detroit Lions.
In March 1985, the famous roof of the stadium collapsed under the weight of snow after an overnight storm. The wooden basketball floor was heavily damaged. The roof had to be restored and improved at a cost of $8.5 million.
For 20 years, the stadium hosted many great events. On October 6, 1975, the Detroit Lions played their first NFL game at this stadium. In 1979, the NBA All-Star Game was organized there, and on January 24, 1982, the Super Bowl XVI was also held at the stadium.
In 1984, Michael Jackson decided to organize his Victory Tour concert at the Silverdome Stadium. On March 29, 1987, the legendary WrestleMania III held a major show there which was attended by 93,173 people. In the same year, Pope John Paul II celebrated a mass at this arena in front of 93,682 people.
Football returned to the stadium in 1994 when the arena became the official venue for the FIFA World Cup final. The arena hosted four World Cup games in the summer of 1994, including the United States against Switzerland. However, for players and fans, the stadium is mostly remembered during that summer for having unbearable indoor conditions.
In the same year, on July 14 and 15, Pink Floyd performed part of their Division Bell Tour at the stadium.
Loss of Home Team
In 1995, the Detroit Lions began to think about changing their home ground and moved to the nearby Ford Field in Detroit.
By that time, the stadium’s debt was so high that any proceeds it made went to paying off the debt instead of maintaining or improving the site. Regular maintenance of the stadium was expensive, and furthermore, the city of Pontiac at that time was suffering in the financial crisis.
Auction & New Tenant
Finally, the city put the stadium up for auction in 2009. Canadian developer Andreas Apostolopoulos won the auction with a bid of $550,000.
Andreas spent $6 million on the restoration and modernization of the Silverdome stadium. He managed to regain some of the sporting events that had been lost, such as a football match between AC Milan and Panathinaikos which was held there in 2010.
Andreas began making plans to transfer the Higher Football League to Silverdome. However, the next collapse of its inflatable roof in January 2013 due to a winter storm destroyed all such plans. This collapse was the final, tragic event in the history of the great stadium.
When the stadium was sold again in 2009, the purchase price was just $583,000, which many residents considered to be indicative of the collapse of real estate prices in the area.
One More Auction
In 2014, the remaining property at the stadium, such as seats and fixtures, was put up for sale at auction.
In June 2015, BMX racer Tyler Fernengel teamed up with Red Bull to video him doing stunts in the abandoned Silverdome Stadium.
In 2015, the stadium’s parking lot was used to store 9,000 Volkswagen diesel vehicles which the company had been forced to buy back after the emissions scandal. However, the decision to store them there was made without securing the proper permits, and the city issued six separate citations against the owners.
Pontiac Mayor Deirdre Waterman spent a long time in talks with the Apostolopoulos Investment Group in an effort to get the stadium demolished due to its terrible condition and the absence of any need for it. Eventually, the stadium was condemned.
It took two attempts to demolish the 400,000-square-foot stadium in late 2017. The first attempt failed due to a wiring issue with the charges. The attempt the next day was successful.
The destruction of the site was completed in March 2018, leaving a 50 foot (15 meter) hole where the Silverdome had once stood. The Adamo Group used 55,000 cubic yards (42,050 cubic meters) of pulverized concrete to fill in this area.
Many people have fond memories of the Silverdome Stadium, and its destruction has become a symbol of the decline of the once-prosperous area of southeastern Michigan.
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