A Vision for a Stadium - The Visionary Who Conceived It and Helped Make It a Reality

In 1957, eighteen years before the Detroit Lions played their first game in the new stadium, the idea of a sports stadium for metropolitan Detroit was proposed and sent to the Michigan Legislature to build a sports facility via an Olympic Games Authority. In 1962 and 1964, a Detroit stadium proposal for the State Fair Grounds was discussed for a 1968 Olympic Games bid

In 1966, the idea of a stadium was also incorporated in a proposal for downtown redevelopment  for the city of Pontiac, MI. However, actual implementation of the idea did not take place until February 1968, when  an unofficial committee was formed by Detroit Mayor Jerome Cavanagh to make recommendations on the location and construction of the stadium.  

A new expanded and official Metropolitan Stadium Committee, consisting of C. Don Davidson, Detroit Lions owner William Clay Ford, and other locally -prominent businessmen was organized to discuss a stadium on a 155 acre site located at the intersection of two major highways (1-75 and M-59) on land owned by the Pontiac School District.  The Metropolitan Stadium Committee voted unanimously for the Pontiac site.  

By the following year, the group had become incorporated as the City of Pontiac Stadium Building Authority, with members appointed by the city commission which spent the greater part of 1969 completing the necessary economic feasibility studies in constructing such a stadium. The city informed the Detroit Lions and the Detroit Tigers professional franchises that a stadium could be built and financed in Pontiac..

* City to Push for Stadium - Pontiac Press Newspaper, May 24, 1968 (see article below)

C. Don Davidson

From the early 60's until the mid 1970's, Pontiac's own, Don Davidson (1929-1987) was an urban planner, designer and architect, designing and coordinating many developments across the nation. Davidson also taught architecture and urban planning as a professor at the University of Detroit. He was best known for two local projects, the Pontiac Silverdome Stadium and the Pontiac Plan,
 - Pontiac Times, Dec. 7, 1973

During the initial phase of the stadium proposal of 1966 (pg. 104), Davidson and his University of Detroit architecture class, under the direction of Bruno Leon, Dean of Architecture, conceived and designed the stadium as part of an overall urban renewal project for the city of Pontiac and surrounding area. Davidson ultimately was hired as Chief Project Designer by the architectural firm, O'dell, Hewlett & Luckenbach.

After the completion of the stadium project, Davidson was pleased to know that a major part of his life long dream for the city of Pontiac had become a reality with the construction of an 80,000 seat 'state of the art' sports complex that, in his own words, "has a symmetrical layout and field of view that mirrors the Roman Colosseum". Davidson, along with Oakland Press Sports Writer, Bruno Kearns, was also a founding member of the Pontiac Quarterback Club.

Professor Davidson at urban renewal presentation - ca 1966

City to Push for Stadium
(First mention of a Pontiac stadium, Pontiac Press - May 24, 1968)


Rendering of a proposed dual stadium with a sliding dome 

“It’s the smallest big stadium in the world. It has a unique design that will allow more people to sit close to the field, with straight sight lines, than at any other stadium.  I think it’s the best stadium in the world right now.” - C. Don Davidson, designer

The Beginning and the Ending of the Silverdome, as profiled by MMQB of Sports Illustrated

Road to Super Bowl 50

The Birth of a Dynasty and the Death of a Dome

Thirty-four years ago, the Silverdome hosted Super Bowl XVI and the 49ers began their decade of dominance. With the Detroit stadium now in ruins, let’s look back at how San Francisco began its run—complete with shadowboxing coaches, bellhop disguises and players getting 'Physical’—and the fate of the venue where it all started.   
Read full article.....

Silverdome Sold, Deflated & Abandoned

After the Lions departure, the city of Pontiac began to experience dire financial problems. Due to continued high costs to maintain the stadium, the city made several unsuccessful attempts to sell the stadium. In early 2008, United Assurance Company Ltd. made the highest purchase offer to date, with a bid of $18 million to convert the Silverdome into a Hollywood-style entertainment complex, following an earlier bid of $12 million by an attorney. However, the city announced in October 2009 that the property would go to auction with no minimum bid, and that zoning regulations would be relaxed for any buyer in order to spark development. The city engaged the firm of Williams & Williams to conduct the auction in November 2009.

Silverdome sells for $583,000

After reading about the auction in a newspaper, Greek-born Canadian real estate developer Andreas Apostolopoulos, CEO of Toronto-based Triple Properties Inc., submitted a winning bid of US$550,000. Real estate fees of 6% raised the price to US$583,000. The sale of the Silverdome, completed in 1975 at a cost of $55.7 million (approx. $225 million in 2012 dollars), and sold in 2009 for $583,000 was viewed by many as a symbol of the collapse of real estate prices in the Detroit metropolitan area though many local leaders and residents claimed the sale was brought about due to the incompetence of city management and their not having a vision or future plans for the stadium and surrounding area.

The abandoned Silverdome - From a 'domed' stadium to a 'doomed' stadium.

The fiberglass roof was permanently deflated on January 2, 2013, supposedly as an energy saving and cost measure. Prior to it's abandonment, plans called for a new, permanent, self-supporting roof to be installed topped with solar panels for energy production.  All the fancy talk of redevelopment would end up as nothing but a mere dream.