Pontiac Metropolitan Stadium (1975)
1200 Featherstone Road
Pontiac, Michigan 48342
Triple Investment Group
|Operator||Triple Sports & Entertainment|
80,311 (Football & soccer)
|Record attendance||93,682 for Pope John Paul II|
|Broke ground||September 19, 1973|
|Opened||August 23, 1975, Re-opened April 17, 2010|
|Closed||February 2006; Re-closed 2013|
($244 million in 2016 dollars)
|Architect||O'Dell/Hewlett & Luckenbach|
|Structural engineer||Geiger Berger Associates|
|General contractor||Barton Malow|
Detroit Lions (NFL) (1975–2001)
Detroit Pistons (NBA) (1978–1988)
Detroit Express (NASL) (1978–1980)
Michigan Panthers (USFL) (1983–1984)
Cherry Bowl (NCAA) (1984–1985)
Motor City Bowl (NCAA) (1997–2001)
Detroit Mechanix (AUDL) (2012)
The Silverdome, formerly known as the Pontiac Silverdome, is a privately owned stadium located in Pontiac, Michigan, United States. It opened in 1975 and sits on 127 acres (51 ha) of land. When the stadium opened, it featured a fiberglass fabric roof held up by air pressure, the first use of the technique in a major athletic facility. The roof has since been removed. With a seating capacity of 82,000, it was the largest stadium in the National Football League (NFL) until FedEx Field in suburban Washington, D.C., opened in 1997.
It was primarily the home of the Detroit Lions of the NFL from 1975 to 2001 and was also home to the Detroit Pistons of the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1978 to 1988. In addition, the Silverdome also served as the home venue for the Detroit Express of the North American Soccer League and the Michigan Panthers of the United States Football League, as well as two college bowl games: the Cherry Bowl and the Motor City Bowl. In 2012 the Silverdome served as the home venue of the Detroit Mechanix of the American Ultimate Disc League and hosted the league championship game that season.
The stadium was a regular concert venue and hosted a number of athletic and non-athletic events, including Wrestlemania III, early round games of the 1994 FIFA World Cup, Super Bowl XVI, regional games in the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament, and the 1979 NBA All-Star Game.
After the opening of Ford Field in 2002, the stadium was left without a permanent tenant. It first closed in 2006, but after multiple attempts to solicit redevelopment plans, the city sold the stadium at auction in 2009. It reopened in 2010 and hosted several events, but closed again by 2013. The roof was deflated in 2013 and has since been removed. Owners auctioned the stadium's contents in 2014 with no future development through June 2015. The owners announced on October 29, 2015, that the dilapidated facility will be demolished beginning in the Spring of 2016.
- Former uses 1
- Conception/development 2.1
- Original silver-like roof 2.2
- Notable audience attendance numbers 2.3
- Marching band activities and events 2.4
- Usage after Lions' move to Ford Field 2.5
- Sale 2.6
- Reopening 2.7
- Auctioning of contents 2.8
Significant events 3
- US Cup 1993 3.1
- 1994 FIFA World Cup matches 3.2
- References 4
- External links 5
The Silverdome hosted the Detroit Lions of the NFL (1975–2001), the Detroit Pistons of the NBA (1978–1988), the Detroit Express (for both outdoor and indoor soccer) of the NASL (1978–1980), the Michigan Panthers of the USFL (1983–1984), college football's Cherry Bowl (1984–1985), the Motor City Bowl (1997–2001), the MHSAA football state finals (1976–2004) and four first-round games during soccer's 1994 FIFA World Cup.
For the World Cup matches, a natural grass surface capable of growing inside the dome was developed and installed by a team from Michigan State University. This grass surface was laid upon wooden pallets atop the artificial turf that is usually used. It was the first time that World Cup games were played indoors. The Silverdome also hosted the 1979 NBA All-Star Game, Super Bowl XVI on January 24, 1982, and the 1988, 1991 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament Midwest Regionals and NCAA Men's Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships in 1982 and 1983.
On March 29, 1987, the World Wrestling Federation's WrestleMania III established the record for attendance of 93,173, the largest recorded attendance for a live indoor sporting event in North America. The record stood until February 14, 2010 when the 2010 NBA All-Star Game broke the indoor sporting event record with an attendance of 108,713 at Cowboys Stadium.
The Silverdome hosted an AMA Supercross Championship round from 1976 to 2005.
In 2012, the Silverdome became the home stadium of the city's professional ultimate team the Detroit Mechanix of the American Ultimate Disc League. That year, the Silverdome hosted the AUDL championship game, as on August 11, the Philadelphia Spinners defeated the Indianapolis AlleyCats 29-22.
After the roof had been collapsed and the stadium abandoned, Red Bull produced a video of BMX rider Tyler Fernengel  riding inside the Silverdome in 2015. Some notable tricks in the video were Tyler's barspin to double peg to 180 degree spin on one of the handrails inside the stadium and a massive truckdriver out of the luxury boxes onto a ramp that led down to the field.
The idea of a major sports complex was part of a dream of C. Don Davidson, a Pontiac, Michigan native and star high school athlete. Davidson, upon graduating from Pontiac Central High School in 1947 and completing active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps, attended North Carolina State University on a football scholarship. After earning a master's degree in urban planning and architecture, Davidson began his career as an architect and was recognized for several government and city projects throughout the south including Florida's Jacksonville International Airport. He returned to Pontiac in 1965 and was shocked to see the deterioration of the city of Pontiac and its lack of a future plan. Davidson embarked upon what would eventually become an obsession for him to see his beloved city succeed. In 1965-66, he was hired as a professor of architecture and urban planning at the University of Detroit under the direction of Bruno Leon, Dean of the school of architecture.
As part of an ongoing, comprehensive study by his architecture class on urban renewal for the city of Pontiac, Davidson met with various city and state authorities including William Clay Ford, owner of the Detroit Lions, to discuss the possibility of a new stadium, made it a college class project to find a suitable site for a new stadium and even started his own weekly newspaper known as The Pontiac Times, to help promote his vision. After much controversy and sparring with Detroit city officials, Pontiac was chosen over several other sites including the Michigan Fairgrounds, Walled Lake and the Detroit Riverfront as the best place for construction of what would become known as the Pontiac Silverdome. Already having a stadium concept as part of his master plan for the city, Davidson was interviewed and ultimately hired as chief project designer for the stadium project by the architectural firm of O'dell, Hewlett & Luckenbach. Initial designs included a dual stadium complex for both football and baseball that was later scrapped due to high costs. Davidson was pleased to see a part of his vision for the city of Pontiac accomplished in the building of the 80,000-seat sports complex. Completed in 1975 as the Pontiac Metropolitan Stadium, at a cost of $55.7 million, the Silverdome seats 80,311. It contains 102 luxury suites and 7,384 club seats.
Original silver-like roof
The original silver-like roof was built of Teflon-coated fiberglass panels, and supported by air pressure inside the stadium. Although the roof has always been white in color as viewed with the naked eye, the stadium obtained the name "Silverdome" due to a silver-like reflection caused by the sun, mainly noticed from the sky. The roof was replaced by a new canvas fabric, reinforced by steel girders after a strong snowstorm on March 4, 1985, caused structural damage to the old roof. Because of the damage, the Detroit Pistons played the remainder of the 1984–85 season at Joe Louis Arena. The accident, and the delay in repairs, partially prompted the Pistons moving three seasons later 4 miles (6 km) north to their new, privately owned, 20,000-seat sports arena, The Palace of Auburn Hills.
The 1985 repairs were necessitated by a collapse of the original 1975 roof around noon EST on March 4, 1985. Heavy, wet snow accumulated on the southwest corner of the dome and depressed the fabric panels low enough so that the fabric came in contact with a steel lighting catwalk that was positioned just below the inner lip of the roof's ring beam. The hole caused a loss of air pressure and the Dome deflated slowly - there were no injuries. The shift from a "dome" to "bowl" caused all the heavy, wet snow to slide down into the bowl and rupture more roof panels, collapse some precast risers in the SW upper deck, and dislodge more plastic seats "... than a Rolling Stones concert" according to Bob Haney, the Dome's Operations Manager. Crews from Owens-Corning Fiberglas, the dome's original roof installer, were on site by 1:30 pm on March 4. Repair operations began immediately but were interrupted for over a week due to high winds. During the high winds event nearly all of the remaining panels in the deflated roof, 100 in all, were badly damaged. The decision was made to replace the entire roof and incorporate some improvements to prevent a similar event from occurring in the future. Repair cost of the roof was just under $8 million.
The repairs were completed and the dome re-inflated at noon on May 28, 1985. A thunderstorm passed through the Pontiac area the morning the Dome was to be re-inflated and a partial inflation, or "puff", was performed so that the scheduled inflation could occur in the presence of the many city and area politicians as well as number corporate executives. The original-style, Teflon-coated fiberglass material was used to make the repairs - not canvas as described in the article. There were several snow-melting and waterproofing improvements that kept the dome inflated until January 2, 2013 - over 25 years.
Notable audience attendance numbers
The largest crowd to ever gather at the Silverdome was on September 18, 1987 for Mass with Pope John Paul II, with a reported attendance of 93,682 - just shading the record of 93,173 set at the Silverdome on March 29, 1987 for WrestleMania III. Another notable audience attendance record had earlier been broken on April 30, 1977, when the English rock band Led Zeppelin played in front of 76,229 fans at the Silverdome. This was, at the time, a new world record attendance for a solo indoor attraction, beating the 75,962 that The Who attracted there on December 6, 1975. The Detroit Pistons also set numerous NBA attendance records during their time at the Silverdome; Regular Season, 61,983 vs. Boston, January 29, 1988; Playoffs, 41,732, vs. L.A. Lakers, June 16, 1988.
Marching band activities and events
The Silverdome was also the home to many marching band activities and events, including the Michigan Competing Band Association State Marching Band Championships until 2005, the Bands of America Regional championships from 2003 to 2005, and the Bands of America Grand National Championships in 1987 and 1988. Following its reopening, the Silverdome was host to the 2010, 2011 and 2012 Bands of America Pontiac Regional Championship.
Usage after Lions' move to Ford Field
The Lions moved to Ford Field at the beginning of the 2002 NFL season. When the World Hockey Association (WHA) tried to re-introduce itself, the new WHA Detroit team was slated to play its home games at the Silverdome. Plans were also mooted for a Windsor-based Canadian Football League team which could have used the dome for possible playoff games, but that team also did not materialize.
After the Lions relocated, activity in the Silverdome dropped drastically; however, it still staged some events. Annually, Jehovah's Witnesses used the Silverdome from the late 1970s to 2004. Due to talk of renovation in 2004, the Witnesses opted to travel to The Dow Event Center in Saginaw, and the SeaGate Convention Centre in Toledo, Ohio for their District Conventions. Between 2003 and 2006, a three-screen drive-in theater operated in the parking lot; this theater reopened in 2010 before closing again on July 13, 2011.
The Silverdome hosted Monster Jam on January 7, 2006, and was used as a practice facility for the AFC Champions Pittsburgh Steelers for Super Bowl XL, with the NFL adding FieldTurf, which was later donated to a local high school.
After the Lions' departure, the city of Pontiac began to experience several years of serious financial problems. Due to the continued high maintenance costs of the structure, it made several unsuccessful attempts to sell the stadium. In early 2008, United Assurance Company Ltd. made the highest purchase offer to date, with a bid of $18 million to convert the Silverdome into a Hollywood-style entertainment complex, following an earlier bid of $12 million by an attorney. However, the city announced in October 2009 that the property would go to auction with no minimum bid, and that zoning regulations would be relaxed for any buyer in order to spark development. The city engaged the firm of Williams & Williams to conduct the auction in November 2009.
After reading about the auction in a newspaper, Greek-born Canadian real estate developer Andreas Apostolopoulos, CEO of Toronto-based Triple Properties Inc., submitted a winning bid of US$550,000. Real estate fees of 6% raised the price to US$583,000. The sale of the Silverdome, completed in 1975 at a cost of $55.7 million (approx. $225 million in 2012 dollars) and sold in 2009 for $583,000, was viewed by many as a symbol of the collapse of real estate prices in the Detroit metropolitan area though many local leaders and residents claimed the sale was brought about due to the incompetence of city management and their not having a vision or future plans for the stadium and surrounding area.
In the March 11, 2010, edition of the Detroit Free Press, Apostolopoulos vowed "to revive the stadium as a big-event venue by investing millions of dollars".
The Silverdome re-opened on April 17, 2010, with a monster truck event.
WBO light welterweight title in a unification fight against WBC champion Devon Alexander. The fight aired live on HBO World Championship Boxing, with an attendance of about 7,000. The owners have indicated that they are pursuing a possible expansion team for Major League Soccer, and may renovate the Silverdome for this purpose.
Auctioning of contents
In March 2014, the owners announced that they would be auctioning off the contents of the facility, including seats and fixtures.
- August 23, 1975 – Detroit Lions' first game in Silverdome, a preseason contest against the Kansas City Chiefs.
- October 6, 1975 – Lions first regular season game, a 36–10 defeat by the Dallas Cowboys on ABC Monday Night Football.
- October 12, 1975 – Lions first regular season Silverdome victory, a 27–7 defeat of the Chicago Bears.
- November 27, 1975 – Lions first Thanksgiving Day game in the Silverdome, a 20–0 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
- December 6, 1975 – The Who (attended by 75,962 fans).
- December 31, 1975 – Elvis Presley (his very first New Year's Eve show, attended by 62,500 fans).
- May 8, 1976 - Aerosmith (opened by Ted Nugent, the Outlaws, and Foghat) (attended by 76,900 fans)
- April 30, 1977 – Led Zeppelin (attended by 76,229 fans).
- March 5, 1978 – Kenny Rogers and Dottie West hosted what was billed as the "World's Largest Indoor Country Music Show" with an attendance in excess of 60,000 fans.
- October 13, 1978 - Detroit Pistons' first home game in Silverdome.
- February 4, 1979 – NBA All-Star Game.
- November 30 and December 1, 1981 - The Rolling Stones performed.
- January 24, 1982 – Super Bowl XVI.
- August 17, 18 and 19, 1984 – The Jacksons performed three concerts at Pontiac Silverdome during their Victory Tour.
- September 4, 1985 – Bruce Springsteen performed to a record crowd during his "Born in the U.S.A." tour.
- March 29, 1987 – WrestleMania III (reported attendance of 93,173).
- August 7, 1987 – Madonna, who lived near the dome in her childhood, performed during a stop on her Who's That Girl World Tour with 56,000 people in the audience
- September 18, 1987 – Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass (Silverdome attendance record of 93,682).
- 1988 – NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament.
- 1988 – NBA Finals games 3 through 5.
- 1991 – NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament.
- January 5, 1992 – Lions first home playoff game at the Silverdome – a 38–6 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
- 1992 – Metallica and Guns N' Roses brought the Guns N' Roses/Metallica Stadium Tour to the dome on July 21, 1992, with Faith No More as their opening act.
- 1993 – Hosted U.S. Cup Soccer Final Match Germany vs England.
- 1994 – Hosted World Cup games for the 1994 World Cup.
- 1994 – Pink Floyd performed their classic album The Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety on July 15, 1994, for the first time since 1975.
- December 31, 1999 – Metallica held New Year's Eve concert at the venue along with Ted Nugent, Kid Rock, and Sevendust.
- January 6, 2002 – Final Detroit Lions game played, a 15–10 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
- April 17, 2010 – "Domination In The Dome" (Monster Trucks) Grand Re-Opening of the Silverdome.
- August 6, 2010 – AC Milan vs Panathinaikos football clubs in "Match of the Titans".
- January 29, 2011 - (HBO Championship Boxing Match) "The Superfight".
US Cup 1993
|Date||Team #1||Result||Team #2||Spectators|
|June 19, 1993||Germany||2–1||England||62,126|
1994 FIFA World Cup matches
|Date||Time (EDT)||Team #1||Res.||Team #2||Round||Spectators|
|June 18, 1994||11.30||United States||1–1||Switzerland||Group A||73,425|
|June 22, 1994||16.00||Switzerland||4–1||Romania||61,428|
|June 24, 1994||19.30||Russia||1–3||Sweden||Group B||71,528|
|June 28, 1994||13.00||Brazil||1–1||Sweden||77,217|
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- Duggan, Daniel (November 18, 2009). "Judge approves injunction to stop sale of Pontiac Silverdome".
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- Inside the abandoned Silverdome at Detroiturbex.com
|Events and tenants|
Host of the
NBA All-Star Game
Super Bowl XVI
Home of the
The Palace of Auburn Hills
Home of the
Bands of America
Grand National Championship
Motor City Bowl
L.A. Sports Arena