Rain rain go away
May 17, 2014 3:03 PM   Subscribe

Rain falls on the now vacant Pontiac Silverdome, once home to the Detroit Lions and the Detroit Pistons. [slyt]

Other major events included Wrestlemania III, which set a world record for attendance at an indoor event. The Lions left the stadium in 2002, after which some concerts and sports events were held. The Silverdome has been vacant since 2012, and the contents are being auctioned off.
posted by whyareyouatriangle (45 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Aaaaaaaaaaand the zombies attack!

Seriously, though. Spooky.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 3:14 PM on May 17, 2014

Wow. Looks a bit like Pripyat.
posted by figurant at 3:18 PM on May 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

What amazes me (despite this being Detroit) is that the place sold for $583,000 a few years ago. No, there are no zeroes missing there. All I can think is that the stadium is a huge liability and that razing it would cost more than the bare land is worth.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:22 PM on May 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:25 PM on May 17, 2014

I wasn't a sports person, so I basically never anticipated a circumstance where I would end up at the Pontiac Silverdome. No loss, I guess, I liked bands that tended to play smaller venues and didn't watch sports. No biggie.

In 1997, my girlfriend worked at a liquor store called Village Corner in Ann Arbor, which catered equally to drunk obnoxious frat boys (being frat adjacent) and similarly obnoxious wine snobs. It was just a couple doors down from a Tower records, and the folks that worked at Tower became friendly with the Village Corner staff, etc.

One day, a dude who worked at the record store said "Hey, Abby, do you like U2?" to which she said "no. not really." "Oh, too bad I had these two tickets and I was wondering if you wanted to go." "oh, well, I mean, I'd go to see U2." "Oh cool." And without even realizing she was being asked on a date, she grabbed them and said "Thanks, I'm gonna take my boyfriend!"

I couldn't care less about U2 as a band, but this was PopMart era, and the show was lavish, and extravagant and big. We made it just in time to miss their openers, SmashMouth.

Well, now the Silverdome is a ghost, Village Corner was demolished to make way for high rise student housing, and we all know what became of Tower Records.

Forever changes.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 3:27 PM on May 17, 2014 [12 favorites]

The Astrodome feels your pain, Silverdome. At least your replacement wasn't built right next to you, dwarfing you and making you look old and frumpy and forlorn.

Reliant Stadium is a better football stadium in every way, and Minute Maid Park is a much better baseball field... but I grew up with the Dome being "the 8th wonder of the world" and it just makes me sad sad sad to see it sit there and rot.
posted by John Smallberries at 3:33 PM on May 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Beautiful. Sad.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:34 PM on May 17, 2014

I see a pattern here.. I used to sell wine (back in the 80's) to the Village Corner (Hi, Rod and Dick, wherever you are) and never once set foot in the Silverdome....
posted by HuronBob at 3:40 PM on May 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

There are a few historic buildings in my area that have changed hands for $1. You're basically paying someone whatever value the land has to take the thing off your hands, I guess.

Wikipedia says there was a soccer game there in 2010, so it was usable until quite recently. Apparently the owners intentionally deflated the roof last year, so most of the damage is probably only from the last couple winters? It doesn't take long for places to start reverting to nature, kind of humbling to consider.

Lots more at Detroit Curbed.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 3:40 PM on May 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

there was a soccer game there in 2010, so it was usable until quite recently.

I'm not sure 4 years qualifies as quite recently.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:47 PM on May 17, 2014

My first big concert was the Jackson 5 Victory tour at the Pontiac Silverdome in '84.

I also bought a lot of beer at the Village Corner when I was in college (and maybe the occasional bottle of wine to try and woo someone). Loved the VC!
posted by Gronk at 3:48 PM on May 17, 2014

Detroit destruction porn seems like it's own alt genre and it's become unwatchable for me. Any of the destroy-it-all brand of anarchism I still retained from my alienated teen years is over. We're letting all the enormous wealth of this country pour into the pockets of a few greedy fucks and the rest of everything is falling apart - Detroit just being a forefront example of where this is all going.

It's too grim for me.
posted by latkes at 3:48 PM on May 17, 2014 [25 favorites]

Forgot to add that I also browsed the Tower Records in Ann Arbor but faithfully bought all records from local record stores.
posted by Gronk at 3:49 PM on May 17, 2014

The Pontiac Silverdome is in Pontiac, MI not Detroit. /pedant
posted by ceribus peribus at 3:52 PM on May 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here in New Orleans we have gotten to be rather smug that the recently-named-after-some-car-maker Superdome is nearly 40 years old and has outlasted so many stadiums built long after it.

Of course part of that is that land is at such a premium here, and it would be impossible to site another facility so large so close to the tourist and hotel centers of the city. But part of it is also that it was a good, forward-looking and not too special-purpose or gimmicky design.

That we saved and restored the stadium after the Katrina debacle is particularly sweet. Say what you want about our politicians or our dubious future as the seas rise, but we have no dead stadium porn for you in the Crescent City.
posted by localroger at 3:54 PM on May 17, 2014 [9 favorites]

latekes--i would wholeheartedly favorite you comment if you changed "few greedy fucks" to "a nation of persons with excessive self interest profoundly lacking a sense of commonweal". A few more words but absolutely agreeing with the sentiment re: Detroit destruction porn. I find it past sad.
posted by rmhsinc at 4:05 PM on May 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

This makes me sad and a little sick. I don't think I ever attended anything at the Silverdome, but some big event was always happening there when I was growing up. It is depressing for me to see it rotting.

(and I browsed at Harmony House, but bought at Sam's Jams, Off The Record, and Play It Again.)
posted by 41swans at 4:07 PM on May 17, 2014

Forever changes.

But U2 lives on!

U2 is the zombie apocalypse.
posted by Pudhoho at 4:18 PM on May 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

In the realm of wasteful expenditures on sports arenas this seems extreme. At least we tear our old dome down and rebuild on the same spot.
posted by mygoditsbob at 4:21 PM on May 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

A stitch in time saves nine.
posted by coolxcool=rad at 4:29 PM on May 17, 2014

The Mosquito-dome, coming this spring, summer, and fall!
posted by buzzman at 4:43 PM on May 17, 2014

Yeah, this is about Pontiac, MI. Not Detroit. The main tenant, the Detroit Lions, wanted to move back to Detroit. Hence, lovely Ford Field in downtown Detroit. The fact that the City of Pontiac couldn't make a go of it after is all on Pontiac.

I saw a couple of games at the Silverdome, some concerts, including a crappy Rolling Stones debacle. Steel Wheels, I think?

Anyway, it's a neat little vid but this Detroit ruin porn has become tiresome, especially when this has almost nothing to do with the city.
posted by absentian at 4:51 PM on May 17, 2014

Reporting from Detroit News and Metro Times on the auction.

More details from DetroitUrbex.com
posted by Roger Dodger at 4:55 PM on May 17, 2014

Built in 1957

Connected to many rail and bus lines

Rated a 5 star stadium for amenities and facilities

Hosted Olympics, Springsteen, Mass led by the Pope, Michael Jackson, U2 etc.

Barcelona's Camp Nou.
posted by surplus at 5:14 PM on May 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

Village Corner still exists but it moved out to Plymouth Rd, abandoning drunken frat boys for the wine folks.

I saw the Who and the Clash at the Silverdome a lot of years ago, as well as a World Cup game - Russia v Sweden. It's a pain in the behind location to get to which may be part of the reason no one wanted to salvage it. Last drove by it last year on the way to one of my son's high school soccer games and it looked mighty sad. Just one of many dystopian scenes in SE Michigan....
posted by leslies at 5:27 PM on May 17, 2014

At least we tear our old dome down and rebuild on the same spot.

Well "we" in the tax-payer sense of we, but it's really all money in Ziggy's pocket.
posted by nathan_teske at 5:47 PM on May 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

I like to think that human civilization peaked with the release of Blazing Saddles, and the decline became unstoppable when they tore down the Philly Spectrum. This is just another milemarker on the highway to hell.
posted by mikelieman at 5:56 PM on May 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Saw The Who there in '79. Used to go to Lions games, friend of mine's dad had season tickets for clients, sometimes he couldn't give them away so we'd go and hang out & watch the people. We had some fun at that place.
posted by marxchivist at 7:24 PM on May 17, 2014

Toyota recently relocated their entire corporate headquarters to Texas. This was likely done for tax and labor-law reasons.

I have a long and elegant e-cig holder that I'm sporting at a jaunty angle from my mouth, FDR-style. Texas will be a reliably Blue state in 2018. This will only accelerate that. The Rust Belt - the Midwest manufacturing powerhouses - became liberal after the workers realized they were being ripped off and hard. Now, manufacturing is coming to Southern States, to "escape" the Liberal Union Morass of the rust belt.

Motherfuckers, you're escaping NOTHING. You are bringing Liberal politics and Union representation to bright Red Ree-publican strongholds, turning them bright purple. Workers who understand they can demand their fair share is not a Union (Army of the United States of America) thing. It's America in action.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:34 PM on May 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

Deadspin has some video of the roof collapsing shot from the inside here.
posted by double block and bleed at 7:44 PM on May 17, 2014

the thing i can't really wrap my head around is that there is seemingly no one interested in stripping it of all its stemware, stools, box seats, consoles, etc...it seems strangely well stocked for the condition it's in.
posted by nadawi at 8:26 PM on May 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

The fact that so many of the furnishings remain intact reminds me of the bit in Stephen King's The Stand in which, after the superflu has swept away 99.4% of New York City's population (and the world's, of course), one of the survivors tells Larry Underwood that he's going to fulfill a lifetime ambition by going to Yankee Stadium, taking his clothes off, running the bases, and masturbating on home plate. Slightly funny to transpose that onto this until you realize that you can't blame this on the superflu.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:27 PM on May 17, 2014

It's being stripped now -- there's an online auction. Up through last year the owners were claiming plans to add a hard roof and rehab it, but apparently never put the cash where their mouths were.
posted by tavella at 9:27 PM on May 17, 2014

My HS football team went to the state finals, I think it was in 1998. As a member of the marching band, I had the honor of performing there. I say "honor," but in reality the two most salient memories are the smell of the gutter surrounding the playing area, and how goddamned difficult it is to march on astroturf.
That particular smell was the worst thing I'd ever experienced in my life, and was not matched or exceeded until my vacation in China, where I had the luxury of a 3 day trip on a steam locomotive next to a bathroom where there was both vomit and diarrhea sprayed in copious amounts on every surface. Yes, the Silverdome was THAT bad.
posted by GoingToShopping at 9:44 PM on May 17, 2014

Detroit destruction porn seems like it's own alt genre and it's become unwatchable for me.

Are you kidding me? Detroit is the most interesting thing happening in America.

Have you even seen any reality television?? #yesdetroit
posted by Mike Mongo at 10:04 PM on May 17, 2014

At first I was going to say I'd never been to the Silverdome, despite more than 10 years in SE Michigan (another one-time Ann Arborite crawls out of the woodwork..) But then I remembered I'd been there to see a World Cup game, Brazil vs. Sweden.

Really the writing was on the wall once the Lions left. Arena rock acts big enough to fill a stadium that size are pretty rare and there are only so many monster truck rallies you can host to keep the lights on.

Last fall when I was visiting some family in the Detroit area we stopped by the site of the former Tiger Stadium (which my brother-in-law had campaigned with other likeminded fans to try and save before it was closed and abandoned in the 90s.) Nowadays you can can pull up and park on the street alongside the park, find a hole in the fence or a gate that has been left ajar, and walk out on the field. You have to watch your step around the pitcher's mound because the goose shit and the only other people to be seen when we were there were a couple who were throwing a tennis ball for their labrador in the muddy outfield. We walked the bases and left; the place seemed surprisingly small and sad and pointlessly wasted. The labrador was the only one there who didn't seem to be depressed by the surroundings.

I'm of an age such that during my lifetime Detroit has been in decline as far back as I can remember. For a few more years at least, however, there are people still alive out there who remember the days when it was truly one of the USA's most important and economically powerful cities. But for me personally, every time I encounter something in Detroit that reminds me of that I have the same feeling of strange sad surprise.
posted by Nerd of the North at 10:17 PM on May 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm of an age such that during my lifetime Detroit has been in decline as far back as I can remember.

For me as well. I'm sure I'd seen t in a few movies, but my first real memory of the place was newspaper articles about the administrative machinations required to maintain its status as a city despite the population declining under a set limit.

My first images of the rust belt came from that Michael Moore film.

Having now been there in person and seen the ruined landscape, I'll never understand how we could have thrown away so much capital investment. I guess the smart money got out early and public bailouts helped buffer some of it, but even so a lot of private dollars were lost when people walked away from that infrastructure.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:27 PM on May 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Deadspin has some video of the roof collapsing shot from the inside here.

That's a video of the Metrodome collapsing, not the Silverdome.
posted by Pendragon at 5:49 AM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Why don't the illegal scrappers take this thing to the ground?
posted by pashdown at 6:28 AM on May 18, 2014

*Rip off the roof entirely; convert the field to a village-green-type open area with gardens, with maybe a pool in there somewhere too.
*Convert upper concourses to apartments, facing both inwards and some facing outwards; shouldn't be too hard, especially on the box levels.
*Perhaps add some shops on the lowest level, facing the village green.

'Cause I've gotta tell ya, I am tired of my tax dollars being used to build ever-more-gigantic stadiums so billionaires get even more tax breaks to bring in some sports team. Dang billionaires can afford to build their own stadiums.
posted by easily confused at 6:49 AM on May 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

My younger brother just emailed me this article yesterday, along with his snarky commentary on our 1979 Pontiac Silverdome experience. We went there to see Kiss in July that year (hold your caustic comments, please) during their Dynasty tour. The floor area was "festival seating", which at the time meant no seats at all, you just stood and it was first come-first served if you wanted to get close to the stage. My younger brother (the one who now complains) was dying to see Kiss, so I took him along. We arrived at the Silverdome at 11AM for a show where the first of two opening acts was scheduled to perform at 8PM. When they opened the doors around 1PM (much earlier than scheduled, due to the crush of fans at the outer gates), there was an almighty stampede down the stairs to get to the main floor. (As you can see in the OP's linked article, the entry doors of the Silverdome were all on the same level as the upper tiers of seats; the football field/basketball court/main level was several flights of stairs downward from there.) I had several moments of panic because during the rush I was literally lifted from the ground and carried by the crowd, and I prayed that my baby brother wouldn't fall and get crushed.

We both managed to regain our footing and dashed toward the stage, ultimately ending up in what would be the second row center had there been seats. And there we stood for the next 12 hours, until the concert ended. There were vendors squeezing through the throng during the afternoon, selling beer and soft drinks, but despite the heat (air conditioning didn't help much when you're packed shoulder-to-shoulder) and debilitating thirst, I only bought one Coke the entire time, because I didn't want to have to lose my place to have to go to the bathroom. (Looking back, I marvel at my youthful stamina; I can't picture my 50-something adult self standing in place for 12 hours for anything short of life-saving plasma.)

I was saddened but not too surprised when later that year several fans were killed in a similar festival seating crush in Cincinnati at a Who concert.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:13 AM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Why don't the illegal scrappers take this thing to the ground?

It's cursed, and Kool And The Gang will chase you through seven hells, driving monster trucks, if you tamper with it.
posted by thelonius at 11:52 AM on May 18, 2014

Why don't the illegal scrappers take this thing to the ground?

I don't think this place is as decrepit as the pictures make it look. Yes, the roof caved in. But it's done that several times since the place opened. Only this last time, they didn't repair it the following spring. They are going to sell off the stuff instead.

I lived a mile away from the Silverdome in the eighties from 5th grade through the end of high school in Pontiac Twp. (which later became Auburn Hills). I remember the roof collapsed back then due to heavy snow/ice and it pretty much looked the same. I had a piece of that old roof at one time, but not sure what happened to it. That rain is mostly falling on astroturf, concrete and stadium seating, and the roof hasn't been down THAT long.
posted by Roger Dodger at 1:46 PM on May 18, 2014

As a teenager I used to live a few blocks away from the Silverdome. It was a walk away. I remember crews widening the main avenue to handle overflow traffic.
My father took me to a Lions game there a couple of times (they lost, of course). This was in the early 1980s.

Driving by years later the site feels as ruinous as many rust belt locales: empty and sad.
posted by doctornemo at 10:32 AM on May 19, 2014

Greetings to fellow Ann Arbor veterans to sir with millipedes, HuronBob, Gronk, 41swans, leslies, Nerd of the North. I bought my first legal booze from the Village Corner, and fondly remember a tiny, tiny alt.music store that lasted a couple of years behind it.

This was back in 1985-1997, when I was a student, and worked at the Dawn Treader.
posted by doctornemo at 10:36 AM on May 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

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