The end is near for the 40 year old Pontiac Silverdome, once the home of the National Football League’s Detroit Lions and a host of major events including the Super Bowl. The building is facing the wrecking ball soon.
Pontiac, Michigan saw the building of a football facility as an opportunity to start an urban and economic renewal in the 1960s and did get the building completed by 1975 at a cost of $55 million. Detroit Lions owner William Clay Ford took his team out of Detroit and moved it to a building with lots of goodies including a large seating capacity which featured a good number of luxury boxes and club seats. But a funny thing happened to those 1970s era built stadiums with all of the goodies, they became outdated quickly and by 2002 Ford was back in Detroit in a new stadium with shinier and newer gadgets. The old building in Pontiac succumbed to bad economics and Mother Nature. Some of the 1970s stadiums did have lingering debt long after they were demolished including Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh and the Kingdome in Seattle.
The shortest life span of any American sports building seems to be the Miami Arena which was outdated by the end of the first decade of existence. Government officials continue to pursue buildings even though there is a remarkably long record of economic failure in government partnerships with sports owners. Very few of these facilities ever delivered in revitalizing a city or county economics although there was very small growth in the economy in areas surrounding the new stadiums and arenas. There has also never been an official government study showing if stadiums and arenas help or hurt a city but that may be by design. Politicians may not want to know. So it is goodbye to the Silverdome, a place that lasted maybe a generation, another sports economic failure for another municipality.
I’m Evan Weiner for the Politics of Sports Business.
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner