The Pontiac Silverdome (also known as simply the Silverdome) was a stadium in Pontiac, Michigan. It opened in 1975 and sat 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 architectural technique in a major athletic facility. With a seating capacity of 82,000+, it was the largest stadium in the National Football League (NFL) until FedExField (91,000 capacity) in suburban Washington, D.C., opened in 1997.
|Former names||Pontiac Metropolitan Stadium (1975–1976)|
Pontiac Silverdome (1976–2013)
|Address||1200 Featherstone Rd|
|Operator||Triple Sports & Entertainment|
80,311 (Football & soccer)
|Record attendance||93,682, September 19, 1987 (Pope John Paul II)|
|Broke ground||September 19, 1973|
|Demolished||December 4, 2017 – April 2018|
|Construction cost||US$55.7 million|
($314 million in 2018 dollars)
|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)
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 the 1979 NBA All-Star Game, Super Bowl XVI, WrestleMania III, early round games of the 1994 FIFA World Cup, and regional games in the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament.
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 for only $550,000 (less than 1% of the cost to build the dome). It reopened in 2010 and hosted several events, but closed again, this time permanently, in 2013. The roof was destroyed by a winter storm. Owners auctioned the stadium's contents in 2014 with no future development through June 2015. The site of the stadium currently houses thousands of recalled Volkswagen vehicles.
In 2017, the Silverdome was condemned and prepared for demolition by Adamo Demolition; the upper ring of the stadium, which had supported the roof structure, was imploded on December 4, 2017, after a failed attempt the previous day. Following the implosion, the remains of the stadium were brought down in sections with hydraulic excavators, and the last free standing section was felled by late March 2018. In September 2019 it was announced that Amazon would develop the site and bring 1,500 jobs to the area.
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 and 1991 NCAA Division I Men's 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 Frisbee 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 Fernengel's barspin to double peg to 180° spin on one of the handrails inside the stadium and an impressive "truckdriver" (handlebars spinning 360° while the bike frame spins 360°) out of the luxury boxes onto a ramp that led down to the field. That same year, a drag racing event at the former parking lot marked the beginning of Woodward Dream Cruise.
The idea of a major sports complex was part of a dream of C. Don Davidson, a Pontiac 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.
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 (potentially housing the Detroit Tigers) 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 seated 80,311. It contained 102 luxury suites and 7,384 club seats. It sometimes incorporated the arrowhead emblem from its namesake General Motors division into its own logo.
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" (which it would officially take on in 1977) due to a silver-like reflection caused by the Sun, mainly noticed from the sky. (Initially, however, the stadium also went by its shortened nickname of PonMet, but that nickname was disliked by Pontiac city commissioners.) 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 the now-closed 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 (like Joe Louis Arena, it also has since closed down).
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 – almost 28 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 from the Silverdome to Ford Field after the end of their 2001 season. Despite being the Lions' home for 27 seasons, the day of the last home game, January 6, 2002, was marked by a noticeable absence of nostalgia among the fans as well as the players. In particular, long-time Lions' defensive end Robert Porcher singled out the stadium's artificial turf as the worst part about playing at the Silverdome, echoing other players present that day.
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 champion 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.
A.C. Milan and Panathinaikos F.C. played an exhibition game on August 6, 2010. On January 29, 2011, professional boxer Timothy Bradley defended his 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 indicated that they were pursuing a possible expansion team for Major League Soccer, and contemplated renovating the Silverdome for this purpose. Ultimately, the lack of events coming into the stadium, combined with the 2013 roof collapse, put any further development plans on indefinite hold.
Auctioning of contents and demolition
In December 2014, Cleveland-based photographer Johnny Joo captured the Silverdome in a state of abandonment, showing destruction caused by the 2013 roof collapse.
Afterwards, in October 2015, it was announced that the Silverdome would be demolished in the Spring of 2016, and the area would be part of an Oakland County mixed-use development. Demolition was then scheduled for December 3, 2017. In June 2016, fire caused by arson destroyed the former press box. The parking lot is being used as storage for hundreds of VW diesel cars as a result of Volkswagen's 2015 emissions scandal. The dome owner and the city were in conflict over the condition of the dome.
In 2017, the Silverdome was condemned and cleared for demolition. Workers had been on the site for the past few months before main power feeds were disconnected preparing the Silverdome for demolition, including completing environmental remediation, universal waste removal and tearing out transite asbestos panels that were used in a majority of the suites around the perimeter of the dome; though not without a few local trespasser visits to explore the place leading up to the demolition. On September 18 and 19, 2017, four power feeds were disconnected, officially starting the final preparation process for demolition. The firm contracted to handle the demolition, the Detroit-based Adamo Group, also imploded the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on November 20 before moving on to the Silverdome. The demolition of the Silverdome was to commence on December 3, 2017 with a partial implosion of the upper deck, followed by an excavation of the building from the inside out.
Due to a wiring issue, eight of the explosive charges failed to detonate, preventing the stadium from imploding as planned. A second attempt was successful the next day. While Adamo could not pinpoint the exact cause of the issues, they did note that trespassers had been seen on the property a couple of days prior to the first attempt. It was noted that on the second attempt, Adamo doubled the amount of explosives used from 300 to 600 lb (136 to 272 kg) of TNT.
By the end of March 2018, the last free standing wall of the Silverdome was felled, leaving a 50 foot (15 m) deep hole where the stadium once stood. 55,000 cubic yards (42,050 m3) of crushed concrete will remain on site to be used as landfill material. Demolition officials stated that final filling and grading operations of the former Silverdome site were expected to be completed by the end of November 2018.
Amazon to build new distribution and delivery center (2019)
In September 2019, the City of Pontiac announced that Amazon was going to develop the Silverdome site into both a distribution facility and delivery center. The delivery center is targeted to open in the second half of 2020, with the distribution center being operational in 2021. The project cost was estimated at $250 million and would bring 1,500 jobs to the Pontiac area.
- 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.
- January 24, 1982 – Super Bowl XVI.
- January 5, 1992 – Lions first home playoff game at the Silverdome – a 38–6 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
- November 23, 2000 - Tom Brady made his NFL debut in a 34-9 Lions victory at the Silverdome. Brady completed 1 of 3 passes for 6 yards.
- January 6, 2002 – Final Detroit Lions game played, a 15–10 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
- October 13, 1978 – Detroit Pistons' first home game in Silverdome.
- February 4, 1979 – NBA All-Star Game.
- January 29, 1988 – Detroit Pistons single game attendance record (61,983 vs Boston Celtics)
- 1988 – NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament.
- June 12, 14 and 16, 1988 – NBA Finals games 3 through 5.
- 1991 – NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament.
|Date||Winning Team||Result||Losing Team||Tournament||Spectators|
|February 2, 1992||2–1||Friendly||35,248|
|June 19, 1993||2–1||1993 U.S. Cup Final||62,126|
|June 18, 1994||1–1||1994 FIFA World Cup Group A||73,425|
|June 22, 1994||4–1||61,428|
|June 24, 1994||3–1||1994 FIFA World Cup Group B||71,528|
|June 28, 1994||1–1||77,217|
|August 6, 2010||0–0|
Boxing & Pro Wrestling
- March 29, 1987 – WrestleMania III (Pontiac Silverdome record attendance of 93,173).
- January 29, 2011 – (HBO Championship Boxing Match) "The Superfight".
|December 6, 1975||The Who||Toots & the Maytals||By Numbers||75,962||—||The live versions of "Join Together", "Road Runner", and "My Generation Blues" were recorded for The Kids Are Alright soundtrack but were omitted from the first CD release of the soundtrack, but were included in the reissued edition.|
|December 31, 1975||Elvis Presley||—||—||62,500||$816,000||This is Elvis' very first New Year's Eve show.|
|May 8, 1976||Aerosmith||Ted Nugent|
|July 11, 1976||Elton John||—||Louder Than Concorde Tour||—||—|
|July 25, 1976||Jethro Tull||Rick Derringer|
|Too Old To Rock 'N' Roll Tour||—||—|
|April 30, 1977||Led Zeppelin||—||1977 North American Tour||76,229||$792,361.50||Set attendance record for a solo indoor attraction.|
|March 5, 1978||Kenny Rogers|
|Oak Ridge Boys||—||60,000+||—||This performance was billed as the "World's Largest Indoor Country Music Show".|
|July 13, 1979||Kiss||Cheap Trick|
|July 28, 1979||Bee Gees||Sweet Inspirations||Spirits Having Flown Tour||36,270 / 36,270||$453,375|
|December 7, 1979||The Who||Blackfoot||The Who Tour 1979||—||—|
|November 30, 1981||The Rolling Stones||Iggy Pop|
|American Tour 1981||152,696 / 152,696||$2,290,000|
|December 1, 1981|
|September 30, 1982||The Who||Eddie Money|
|The Who Tour 1982||75,000 / 75,000||$1,119,000|
|August 17, 1984||The Jacksons||—||Victory Tour||143,700||$4,350,030|
|August 18, 1984|
|August 19, 1984|
|September 4, 1985||Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band||—||Born in the U.S.A. Tour||69,844 / 69,844||$1,222,270|
|April 30, 1987||U2||Lone Justice||The Joshua Tree Tour||51,718 / 51,718||$853,347|
|August 7, 1987||Madonna||Level 42|
Hue and Cry
|Who's That Girl World Tour||41,017 / 44,556||$881,866|
|June 17, 1988||Van Halen|
|Monsters of Rock Tour 1988||—||—|
|June 18, 1988|
|July 25, 1989||The Who||—||The Who Tour 1989||46,000 / 46,000||$1,058,000|
|December 9, 1989||The Rolling Stones||Living Colour||Steel Wheels Tour||100,234 / 100,234||$2,956,834|
|December 10, 1989|
|May 24, 1992||Genesis||—||We Can't Dance Tour||—||—|
|July 21, 1992||Metallica|
Guns N' Roses
|Faith No More||Guns N' Roses/Metallica Stadium Tour||47,540 / 47,540||$1,378,660||After Guns N' Roses performed their song "You Could Be Mine", Axl Rose vomited onstage and left soon afterwards, but returned to the stage and apologized to the audience for the poor performance, so the band redid the song again.|
|September 9, 1992||U2||Primus|
The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy
|Zoo TV Tour||36,740 / 40,680||$1,102,200||This show was on the Outside Broadcast leg of the tour.|
|June 4, 1993||Paul McCartney||—||The New World Tour||49,378 / 49,378||$1,291,778|
|July 14, 1994||Pink Floyd||—||The Division Bell Tour||111,355 / 111,355||$3,772,950||The band performed their classic album The Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety for the first time since 1975.|
|July 15, 1994|
|August 18, 1994||Billy Joel|
|—||Face to Face 1994||54,125 / 54,125||$2,444,334|
|December 1, 1994||The Rolling Stones||Spin Doctors||Voodoo Lounge Tour||38,274 / 38,274||$1,815,325|
|October 31, 1997||U2||Smash Mouth||Popmart Tour||35,463 / 40,000||$1,781,621||This show took place on Larry Mullen's 36th birthday|
|July 31, 1999||NSYNC||Jordan Knight|
|NSYNC in Concert||48,163 / 55,626||$1,528,735|
|December 31, 1999||Metallica||Ted Nugent|
|M2K Mini Tour||54,707 / 54,707||$3,049,117||This was a New Year's Eve concert. At the show, Metallica broadcast the Times Square Ball Drop, ushering in the year 2000, and played the classic Kiss track "Detroit Rock City" alongside the opening acts.|
|July 18, 2000||NSYNC||P!nk||No Strings Attached Tour||48,708 / 48,708||$2,395,413||This concert was filmed for their concert movie "*NSYNC: Bigger Than Live".|
|February 15, 2001||Backstreet Boys||Destiny's Child||Black & Blue Tour||—||—|
|July 4, 2003||Metallica||Limp Bizkit|
|Summer Sanitarium Tour||—||—|
In popular culture
- November 25, 1997: In the season 7 Home Improvement episode Thanksgiving, Tim (Tim Allen) manages to black out the entire stadium during the Detroit Lions' annual Thanksgiving Day game.
- January 27, 2016: The Silverdome's inception and demise, including Super Bowl XVI, are profiled by Sports Illustrated's MMQB, "Road to Super Bowl 50".
- Throughout his career, wrestling legend Hulk Hogan made various references to being the first man to body-slam Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania III—The Birth of a Dynasty and the Death of a Dome.
- The Silverdome appears in Transformers: The Last Knight, the fifth installment in the Paramount film franchise. Crews began filming on June 20, 2016 and shot in the area for about 8 weeks. The movie was released in theaters on June 23, 2017.
- Under the ownership of Triple Investment Group, the stadium was solely known as "The Silverdome", though often was still referred to as "Pontiac Silverdome". At demolition, it was referred to as "Pontiac Silverdome".
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pontiac Silverdome.|
- Pontiac Silverdome official website, archived from the original on June 16, 2013, retrieved May 20, 2014
- Inside the abandoned Silverdome at Detroiturbex.com
- Demolition video
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- — Ravaged Pontiac Silverdome Featured in New Tranformers Trailer
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