Pontiac Silverdome, photo by Mathew Davey
With the departure of some key players including Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Reggie Bush and addition of new faces including Ravens stalwart Haloti Ngata, the Lions have had a fairly eventful offseason. One place that not much is happening is the Lions’ former home, the massive and now domeless Pontiac Silverdome.
Stadiums of Pro Football’s page on the Pontiac Silverdome says that this modern-day ruin was designed by O’Dell/Hewlett & Luckenbach and built at a cost of $55 million:
Home of the Detroit Lions for more than 25 years, the Silverdome was one of the largest stadiums in the NFL. Prior to moving into the Silverdome, the Detroit Lions had played at Tiger Stadium since 1938, that was also the home of the Detroit Tigers (MLB). Tiger Stadium was primarily a baseball stadium, but served as the home to the Lions for more than 30 years. In the late 1960s, the team wanted a new football only stadium. After several bonds were passed allowing the team to build a stadium, the Lions bought land in nearby Pontiac, MI. Because of the area’s cold winter weather, the team decided to build a domed stadium. Construction on the stadium, named the Pontiac Silverdome, began on September 19, 1973 and was completed in 23 months.
Opening day for the Lions at the Silverdome was on October 6, 1975. The Silverdome became the largest stadium in the NFL with a capacity of 80,311. Three tiers of blue seats circled the entire Astroturf playing field. The roof at the Silverdome consisted of Teflon-coated fiberglass panels. In 1985 after a heavy snowstorm the roof was structurally damaged. However over the next several months a new canvas and steel-girder reinforced roof was added to prevent the problem from occurring again. The Silverdome had several amenities that included 93 executive suites and a club restaurant. Other than hosting football games, the Silverdome hosted many other events including tractor pulls, soccer and basketball games, and concerts. The first Super Bowl played in a northern city, Super Bowl XVI between the Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers, was played at the Silverdome. In the mid 1990s, the Lions became dissatisfied with the Silverdome. By 1997, bonds were passed allowing construction of a new domed stadium in downtown Detroit. The Lions played their final game at the Silverdome on January 6, 2002. The team moved into Ford Field in August 2002.
The Oakland Press has 89 historical photos of the Silverdome including a couple with Barry Sanders. If you want to go get all depressed instead, head over to Curbed Detroit for the saga of the godawful mess the Silverdome has become.
Matthew took this photo in December of 2014. Click to view it big as the Silverdome!
More Detroit Lions on Michigan in Pictures.