Monday, November 30, 2015

Inside the abandoned Silverdome

The Silverdome, located in Pontiac, Michigan, with a seating capacity of 82,000 used to be the largest stadium in the NFL. It opened in 1975 and it was the home of Detroit Lions for the next 26 years as well as the home of Detroit Pistons on NBA from 1978 to 1988. When it opened, it featured a fiberglass fabric roof held up by air pressure, the first use of the technique in a major athletic facility.

Silverdome was used for a variety of athletic and non-athletic events. It hosted games of the North American Soccer League, the 1994 FIFA World Cup, and many basketball tournaments including the NBA. As a concert venue, Silverdome hosted WWE's Wrestlemania III, and artists such as Elvis Presley, The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling StonesBruce Springsteen, The Jackson 5, Metallica and Madonna. The attendance record was broken on September 18th, 1987 when Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass in front of 93,682 people.

After the Lions moved to Ford Field in 2002, activity in the Silverdome dropped drastically although it still hosted some events. The city of Pontiac began to experience several years of serious financial problems and made several unsuccessful attempts to sell Silverdome due to the continued high maintenance costs of the stadium. Silverdome was finally sold in 2009 to Greek-Canadian real estate developer Andreas Apostolopoulos for only $583,000 while its 1975 cost was $55.7 million. The collapse of real estate prices in the Detroit metropolitan area as well as the incompetence of the local government have been blamed for the absurd sale price.

The new owner reopened Silverdome briefly between 2010 and 2012 for a few events. Apostolopoulos wanted to to bring top-tier pro soccer back to Detroit but Silverdome was too big to only host soccer games. The facilities started to deteriorate and in 2014 the owner decided to auction off any equipment that can still be auctioned. A few weeks ago, Apostolopoulos decided to demolish Silverdome in 2016 and sell the 127-acre (514,000 sq m) land its built on.


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