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The Pontiac Silverdome is a domed stadium located in the city of Pontiacmarker, Michiganmarker. It sits on . It hosted the Detroit Lions of the NFL from 1975–2001, the Detroit Pistons of the NBA from 1978–1988, the Michigan Panthers of the USFL from 1983–1984, the college football Cherry Bowl in 1984 and 1985 and Motor City Bowl from 1997 until 2001, the MHSAA football state finals from 1976–2004, and four first-round games during the 1994 FIFA World Cup. It was also one of the largest stadiums in the NFL during this time, after FedEx Fieldmarker which opened in 1997.

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 Universitymarker. 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 28, 1982, and the 1988 and 1991 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament Midwest Regionals. It also hosted three concerts of the The Jacksons Victory Tour in August 1984. In 1987, Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass there. Elvis Presley also performed a concert there on New Year's Eve in 1975, and had vowed to play there every other year. On March 29, 1987, the World Wrestling Federation's WrestleMania III established the largest indoor attendance record for a sporting event, with a crowd of 93,173 in attendance.

On July 15, 1994, English rock band Pink Floyd performed their classic album The Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety for the first time since 1975. They played two shows on what turned out to be the band's final North American tour in 1994 in support of their album The Division Bell.

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 Universitymarker 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 Airportmarker. 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 Detroitmarker 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 freak spring 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 Arenamarker before eventually moving three miles north to a new 20,000-seat sports arena, The Palace of Auburn Hillsmarker, beginning with the 1988–89 season.

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 in 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 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 in December 1975. The Detroit Pistons also set numerous NBA attendance records during their time at the Silverdome.

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.

Usage after Lions' move to Ford Field

The Lions moved to Ford Fieldmarker 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 Windsormarker-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 Centermarker in Saginawmarker, and the SeaGate Convention Centremarker in Toledo, Ohiomarker for their District Conventions. Between 2003 and 2006, the parking lot was used as a drive-in theater.

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. There was also a celebrity flag football game that Saturday which served as the last event ever at the Silverdome.

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. However, the city of Pontiac 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, Real Estate developer Andreas Apostolopoulos of Toronto decided to submit a bid of US$583,000. After learning that he had submitted the winning bid, which he said was "a bit surprising," the Canadian made arrangements to visit the Silverdome in late November and take a look at his new property.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.

References

  1. http://www.athleticturf.net/athleticturf/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=308153
  2. Charles Donald Davidson Feb.4,1929 - April 1, 1987
  3. [1]
  4. Pontiac High School archives 1945-47
  5. [2]
  6. http://silverdome-architect.blogspot.com/2009/03/pontiac-times-newspaper-april-4-1974.html
  7. [3]
  8. Pontiac Press Newspapers - circa 1970-72
  9. Pontiac Times Newspapers - circa 1972-75
  10. [4]
  11. http://www.genealogy.com/users/b/r/o/Eve-Helen-Brown/FILE/0002text.txt (#125)
  12. http://hermaland.blogspot.com/2006/01/good-times-and-bad-times.html
  13. The Oakland Press, circa 1976
  14. http://www.nba.com/pistons/history/1980s.html
  15. Pontiac Silverdome
  16. http://www.jw-media.org/region/americas/usa/english/releases/events/usa_e040302.htm
  17. Second attempt to deal Silverdome falls through
  18. Council approves sale of Silverdome
  19. Place Your Bids: Silverdome Goes on the Block
  20. Pontiac Silverdome Auction
  21. Toronto developer acquires Pontiac Silverdome The Globe and Mail, 23 November 2009
  22. http://freep.com/article/20091116/NEWS03/91116065/1318/Canadian-firm-submits-winning-bid-of-583000-for-Silverdome
  23. Silverdome Sells for $583,000:



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