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The Rise and Fall of the Infamous Pontiac Silverdome

There are thousands of iconic sports stadiums dotted around the United States and around the world that are standing in ruin. They used to host some of sports’ most significant events, epic concerts, and more but now lay crumbling after their owners moved to greener pastures. Some are even demolished to make way for new developments, such as the ill-fated Pontiac Silverdome.

The Pontiac Silverdome was located in Pontiac, Michigan, and was the home to the NFL franchise the Detroit Lions from 1975 to 2001, and the Detroit Pistons of the NBA played their home futures there from 1978 to 1988. Often full of sports fans using the best sports betting apps in the USA during its heyday, the Pontiac Silverdome is no more; an Amazon facility stands where the 82,000 capacity structure once stood proud.

The Dream of a Pontiac Local

C. Don Davidson, a Pontiac native, had the idea for the Pontiac Silverdome in the mid-1960s. He dreamed of building an 80,000+ capacity sporting arena that would breathe life into the city and give its residents something they could be proud of. He completed the then Pontiac Metropolitan Stadium in 1975 at a cost of $55.7 million. The stadium boasted 80,311 seats, including 102 luxury suites and 7,384 club seats.

The stadium’s original roof was made from Teflon-coated fiberglass panels that were supported by the air pressure inside the stadium, making it one of the first sports arenas to be designed like this. Although the roof was white, the sun’s reflection gave it a silver glow, leading to locals giving it the name the Silverdome. The dome’s uniqueness was also its downfall because heavy snowfall in March 1985 caused the deflation and collapse of the roof. Costly, delayed repairs weighed in at $8 million and resulted in the Detroit Pistons moving to the Joe Louis Stadium for the remainder of the 1984-85 season; that stadium no longer exists either.

Over the years, the Pontiac Silverdome hosted some incredible events, both sporting and non-sporting. A record attendance of 93,682 gathered on September 18, 1987, for Mass with Pope John Paul II. This just shaded the 93,173 attendance set on March 29, 1987, for WWF’s WrestleMania III. During the 1970s, English rock bands Led Zeppelin and The Who played out to more than 75,000 people, setting a world record for a solo indoor attraction. Silverdome had made it on the global stage.

Detroit Lions Move Out to a New Home

Detroit Lions moved from the Silverdome to Ford Field after the conclusion of the 2001 season. Although the venue’s owners tried to keep events running at the stadium, colossal maintenance costs began causing problems. In addition, the city of Pontiac experienced several years of financial hardship, and the decision was made to sell the Silverdome. United Assurance Company Limited offered $18 million for the stadium in early 2008. It had plans to turn the Silverdome into a Hollywood-style entertainment complex. However, the bid was rejected in favor of an open auction with no minimum bid required. Andreas Apostolopoulos, CEO of Triple Properties Inc, won the auction for a mere $550,000, which increased to $583,000 with fees.

Apostolopoulos reopened the stadium in April 2010 with a monster truck event. The Silverdome welcomed soccer games, including some World Cup 1994 fixtures and a handful of boxing title fights. Disaster struck in January 2013 when bad weather resulted in the stadium’s roof collapsing again. The new owners decided to auction off the stadium’s contents, fixtures, and fittings in March 2014. An arson attack in mid-2016 destroyed the former press box, and the vast parking lot became a storage facility for hundreds of recalled Volkswagen cars.

Officials condemned the Silverdome in 2017 and cleared it for demolition. Ironically, the first attempt to implode the roof and the stadium’s upper deck on December 3, 2017, failed when some of the explosives failed to go off. The roof that caused so many issues over the years refused to go! By March 2018, nothing of the Silverdome remained standing. Only thousands of tons of crushed concrete remained on the site until September 2019, when Amazon began constructing a distribution facility and delivery center.