NFL

Amazon Will Transform the Lions’ Abandoned Pontiac Silverdome Site Into a Distribution Center

A great stadium is just as integral to a team’s long-term success as a solid roster or an experienced coach. For many decades, the Detroit Lions had one of the best stadiums in the NFL: the Pontiac Silverdome. The Silverdome also served as a 10-year home of the Detroit Pistons, while hosting many large-scale events over the years.

The Silverdome’s prospects took a huge hit in 2002 when the Lions officially moved to the newly constructed Ford Field. Then, the Silverdome sat largely vacant for years, until its demolition in 2017. Last year, Amazon announced plans to put the former stadium’s site to good use. Let’s look at the past and future of the Silverdome.

The Pontiac Silverdome’s glory days

In its heyday, the Silverdome was the largest stadium in the NFL, with an official capacity of 80,311, according to The Guardian. Construction on what was originally known as the Pontiac Metropolitan Stadium completed in 1975. The stadium was officially re-christened as the “Silverdome” in 1977. (The white roof panels looked silver when the sun shone down on them.)

The Silverdome was most notable for being the home of the Lions for 27 solid years. In 1982, it also hosted Super Bowl XVI, when Joe Montana’s San Francisco 49ers overcame the Cincinnati Bengals to win their first-ever championship. Meanwhile, the Silverdome was also the home of the Pistons from 1978-1988. It hosted the All-Star game in 1979, and the NBA Finals in 1988.

The largest event ever hosted at the Silverdome was the WWF’s Wrestlemania III in 1987. For that legendary event, the stadium packing in a record 93,173 fans to watch Hulk Hogan face off against Andre The Giant, details Deadspin. The stadium also hosted countless concerts for big-time names like Led Zeppelin, Bob Seger, U2, and Metallica.

The Lions move on

Pontiac Silverdome in 2009
Fred Leeb gives a tour of the Pontiac Silverdome in 2009 | Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post

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Although the Silverdome was a good home to the Lions, the franchise long-harbored a dream of moving back to a stadium actually located in the city of Detroit. Those dreams were finally made official in 1996, when the Lions announced their intentions to construct a new arena in downtown Detroit. Voters soon approved a referendum to help finance the construction.

Five years passed before the new stadium, Ford Field, officially opened. The Lions made their move official following the completion of the 2001 season. Both fans and players demonstrated a surprising lack of nostalgia about leaving the Silverdome. Many expressed relief that the Lions didn’t have to play on the stadium’s artificial turf anymore.

The Silverdome never really recovered from the loss of its main tenant. Other sports teams attempted to make the stadium their home, yet none lasted very long. Meanwhile, with revenue significantly down, the stadium’s ownership group was unable to keep up with the necessary renovations. After several failed attempts, details MLive, the stadium was finally fully demolished in 2018.

Amazon’s plans to transform the Silverdome site

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In September 2019, Amazon announced their intention to build a new distribution center on the Silverdome site. Apparently, Pontiac offered a strategic geographical location for the company.

That news brought a sense of huge relief to the citizens of Pontiac, a city which had never economically recovered from the loss of the Silverdome. The distribution center was slated to cost $250 million, and would bring in an estimated 1,500 to the area.

As of July 2020, construction on the Amazon facilities is well underway. In addition to the distribution center, the campus will also feature a fulfillment center. In that regard, the site represents a milestone for the Seattle-based corporation, since the Pontiac location will be Amazon’s first to contain both a delivery and a fulfillment center.