Pontiac Silverdome, Michigan, in 2011. Photo by Alex Simple/Wikipedia.

Pontiac Silverdome Refuses to Die

The Pontiac Silverdome is pure Detroit. It refuses to die.

Football fans on both sides of the border watched Sunday morning as the cavernous stadium and the former home of the NFL’s Detroit Lions was prepared for a partial implosion. It was supposed to be the start of a long process to demolish the building.

But when the charges were released around 8:30am, puffs of smoke were seen ringing around the Silverdome. When they cleared, it was still standing. The explosives failed to collapse the support beams holding up the upper bowl of the stadium.

According to the Detroit Free Press and then reported by multiple news sources, the demolition company hired to handle the implosion says the charges went off as they were supposed to, and the support beams were weakened.

Rick Cuppetilli, of the demolition company Adamo, says that crews are investigating why about 10% of those explosives, placed in strategic locations, failed to go off. He says unless the supports buckle on their own, excavators will go in and start dismantling the stadium manually within the next week or two.

The Silverdome was opened in 1975 with the Lions its primary tenant. The team played its games there through the 2001 season, when the team moved to Ford Field in downtown Detroit.

The stadium also hosted the Detroit Pistons of the NBA from 1978 to 1988. Other major sporting events held at the Silverdome were Super Bowl XVI in 1982, the 1994 FIFA World Cup, the Motor City Bowl, and WrestleMania III in 1987.

Also in 1987, the stadium was host to a Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II. Over 93,000 people attended, making it the largest crowd for an event at the Silverdome.

Other non-sports events included concerts by The Who, Elvis Presley, The Jacksons, Pink Floyd, the Bee Gees, Madonna, Metallica, NSYNC and others.

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