I will never forget the first time I walked into the Silverdome. I was in 5th grade. It was the Detroit Lions season finale versus Tampa Bay, December 20, 1981. I remember the “whoosh” of wind that greeted us as we entered through the revolving doors. That blast of breeze coming from the pressurized air used to support the fiberglass roof.
And what a massive roof it was. Our tickets were in the upper deck at the 40-yard line. I will never forget walking through the tunnel into the upper deck and seeing the expanse of the building for the first time. It was astonishing. The haze of cigarette smoke hung in the air as 80,444 fans settled into their seats that day to watch the Lions try to nab their first playoff birth since 1970.
Of course it wasn’t to be. The Lions lost, 20-17, to finish 8-8. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay went to the playoffs at 9-7. The Lions grabbed their golf clubs.
The Silverdome was an “engineering marvel” when it opened in 1975. A lot of history (aside from Lions’ losses) happened under that fiberglass roof. Just look at some of the events that made history at the Silverdome:
- 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.
- December 6, 1975 – The Who (attended by 75,962 fans).
- December 31, 1975 – Elvis Presley (his very first New Year’s Eve show, attended by 62,500 fans).
- April 30, 1977 – Led Zeppelin (attended by 76,229 fans).
- March 5, 1978 – Kenny Rogers and Dottie West hosted what was billed as the “World’s Largest Indoor Country Music Show” with an attendance in excess of 60,000 fans.
- October 13, 1978 – Detroit Pistons’ first home game in Silverdome.
- February 4, 1979 – NBA All-Star Game.
- November 30 and December 1, 1981 – The Rolling Stones performed.
- January 24, 1982 – Super Bowl XVI.
- August 17, 18 and 19, 1984 – The Jacksons performed three concerts at Pontiac Silverdome during their Victory Tour.
- September 4, 1985 – Bruce Springsteen performed to a record crowd during his “Born in the U.S.A.” tour.
- March 29, 1987 – WrestleMania III (reported attendance of 93,173).
- August 7, 1987 – Madonna, who lived near the dome in her childhood, performed during a stop on her Who’s That Girl World Tour with 56,000 people in the audience
- September 18, 1987 – Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass (Silverdome attendance record of 93,682).
- 1988 – NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament.
- 1988 – NBA Finals games 3 through 5.
- 1991 – NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament.
- January 5, 1992 – Lions first home playoff game at the Silverdome – a 38–6 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
- 1992 – Metallica and Guns N’ Roses brought the Guns N’ Roses/Metallica Stadium Tour to the dome on July 21, 1992, with Faith No More as their opening act.
- 1993 – Hosted U.S. Cup Soccer Final Match Germany vs England.
- 1994 – Hosted World Cup games for the 1994 World Cup.
- 1994 – Pink Floyd performed their classic album The Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety on July 15, 1994, for the first time since 1975.
- December 31, 1999 – Metallica held New Year’s Eve concert at the venue along with Ted Nugent, Kid Rock, and Sevendust.
- January 6, 2002 – Final Detroit Lions game played, a 15–10 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
Just look at that list! Contrary to what you will hear today, the Silverdome was a great place. It was easy to get to. There was plenty of parking. Tailgating wasn’t a problem either. The sight lines were always good no matter what the event. 61,983 fans showed up for a Pistons/Celtics clash . . . in the regular season! Monday Night Football, 1990. Lions v. Raiders. Barry Sanders v. Bo Jackson. Fights in the stands. Women dancing and lifting their shirts to cheers during timeouts. Yeah the Lions lost again, but what a party!
I was at that Lions playoff win over Dallas in 1991 . . . still the loudest stadium I’ve ever been in. I was at that Pink Floyd concert too. I think I saw God that night . . . and I didn’t even consume any drugs. An amazing show.
Now it looks like this. The playground for Wyandotte native and professional BMXer, Tyler Fernengel, to film a promotional video for Red Bull.
It’s a cool video and Fernengel is a very skilled and ballsy rider.
But I can’t help but to feel melancholy after watching it.
What can’t Southeast Michigan tear down their buildings before they turn into hulking, rusting, piles of industrial shit?