Pontiac Silverdome

The Silverdome (formerly known as the Pontiac Silverdome) is a domed stadium located in the city of Pontiac, Michigan, USA, which sits on 127 acres (51 ha). It was the largest stadium in the National Football League (NFL) until FedEx Field in suburban Washington, D.C. opened in 1997.

The Silverdome hosted the Detroit Lions of the NFL (1975–2001), the Detroit Pistons of the NBA (1978–1988), the Michigan Panthers of the USFL (1983–1984), the Cherry Bowl, from 1984–1985, the Motor City Bowl, from 1997–2001, the MHSAA football state finals, from 1976–2004 and four first-round games during the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

For the World Cup games, 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 and 1991 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament Midwest Regionals.

On March 29, 1987, the World Wrestling Federation's WrestleMania III established for the record 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.

On July 15, 1994, Pink Floyd performed their classic album, The Dark Side of the Moon, in its entirety, for the first time, since 1975.

The stadium has played host to music festivals, including The Monsters of Rock Festival and The Vans Warped Tour.

History
Conception

The idea of a major sports complex was part of a dream of C. Don Davidson, a Pontiac, Michigan resident and star high school athlete. Davidson, upon graduating from Pontiac Central High School in 1947 and active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps, attended North Carolina State University on a football scholarship. After earning a masters 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. Upon returning home to Pontiac in 1965, he 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 1966-67, 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.

Later on, 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 place 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 as the best site 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.

Notable audience attendance numbers

The largest crowd to ever gather at the Silverdome for an event was 93,682 for a visit and Mass by Pope John Paul II on September 18, 1987. The second largest crowd was on March 29, 1987 for WrestleMania III, with a reported attendance of 93,173. 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 for Opening Night. The Detroit Pistons also set numerous NBA attendance records during their time at the Silverdome; Regular Season, 61,983 vs. Boston, January 29, 1988; Play-offs, 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 BOA 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 their 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 some usage was still present. 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 was set up in the parking lot; this theater reopened in 2010 before closing again on July 13, 2011

The Silverdome was used for Monster Jam on January 7, 2006. It was also 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.

Sale

With the city of Pontiac being in a serious financial crisis for several years and unable to continue the expensive upkeep and maintenance, several failed attempts were made 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 Silverdome was auctioned by Williams & Williams auctioneers on behalf of the City of Pontiac 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. $220 million in 2009 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.

Future

In the Detroit Free Press on March 11, 2010, Apostolopoulos vowed "to revive the stadium as a big-event venue by investing millions of dollars". Owners of the Silverdome have indicated that they may eventually use the Silverdome or demolish it and build a new stadium on its site for a possible expansion team for Major League Soccer.

AC Milan and Panathinaikos FC played a friendly August 6, 2010.Don King promoted a boxing card on January 29, 2011, Timothy Bradley defended his WBO Light Welterweight Title in a unification fight against fellow light welterweight WBC title holder Devon Alexander the fight was live on HBO and attended by about 7,000 die hard fans.

Re-opening

The Silverdome re-opened on April 17, 2010, with a monster truck event. The Detroit-based Stars Football League had placed its flagship franchise, the Michigan Coyotes, at the Silverdome; the team was later moved to Wisner Stadium and ultimately, due to the fact that it was located several hundred miles away from the league's other teams based in Florida and Louisiana, converted into a traveling team. The Coyotes could play at the Silverdome in 2012.

Significant events
  • December 31, 1975 – Elvis Presley (his very first New Year's Eve show, attended by 62,500 fans)
  • February 4, 1979 – NBA All-Star Game
  • January 24, 1982 – Super Bowl XVI
  • March 29, 1987 – WrestleMania III
  • September 18, 1987 – Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass
  • 1988 – NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament
  • 1988 - NBA Finals games 3 through 5
  • 1991 – NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament
  • 1994 – Hosted World Cup games for the 1994 World Cup
  • 2010 – Aug 6th AC Milan vs Panathinaikos football clubs In "Match of the Titans"
1994 FIFA World Cup matches