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The Silverdome, Pontiac, Michigan, USA

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Dr. N. Subramanian
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2014 7:19 pm    Post subject: The Silverdome, Pontiac, Michigan, USA Reply with quote

The Silverdome, Pontiac, Michigan, USA

The Silverdome (formerly known as the Pontiac Silverdome) is a domed stadium located in the city of Pontiac, Michigan, USA. This was designed by Geiger Berger Associates during 1975 and constructed at a cost of $55.7 million($244 million in 2014 dollars). It had a capacity of 82,000 persons. The stadium complex sits on 51 ha. It was the largest stadium in the National Football League (NFL) until FedEx Field in suburban Washington, D.C. 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 University.

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 original 1975 roof collapsed 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.

During the repairs in 1985, the roof was replaced by a new Teflon-coated fiberglass material, reinforced by steel girders. Crews from the company, 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 dignitories. There were several snow-melting and waterproofing improvements that kept the dome inflated until January 2, 2013 - over 25 years.

Heart-breaking view of the stadium in 2014

After the stadium's NFL team, the Detroit Lions, moved to Ford Field in 2001, the stadium was left without a permanent tenant. Due to the continued high maintenance costs of the structure, it made several unsuccessful attempts to sell the stadium. After multiple attempts to solicit redevelopment plans, the city sold the stadium at auction in 2009. A roof collapse and heavy winter-storm damage has made refurbishment impractical; as of May 2014, the stadium's contents are being salvaged and auctioned and future development is uncertain.

Detroiturbex's complete photo gallery, contains 54 pictures documenting the sad end of what was once an American icon. The stadium has sat open to nature for years; the Lions haven't played there since 2002, and there hasn't been an event since 2011. A 2012 storm shredded the roof, leaving the stadium in its current decrepit state.

Detroiturbex documents the decline and fall of the stadium in painful detail, from its hopeful origins in the '60s and '70s to its 2009 sale for less than $600,000.


  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silverdome
  • http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nfl-shutdown-corner/photos-of-ruined-pontiac-silverdome-are-haunting--heartbreaking-163732013.html
  • Subramanian, N., Space Structures-Principles and Practice, Multi-Science Publishing Co. Ltd., UK, 2008, 892 pp (two Volumes)
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