The Pontiac Silverdome is down. Repeat: The Pontiac Silverdome is down.
Demolition company president Richard Adamo said his company “couldn’t find the cords we believe were severed” that foiled the previous demolition attempt, so they decided to “reload the building the shoot it again.” Which presumably means workers had to go back inside a stadium that was teetering on the brink of collapse to load it up with more explosives — that’s the video that I want to see.
(Also, it looks to me like this explosion only knocked down the top half of the upper deck. Enh, good enough for government work.)
Yes, they tried to blow up the Pontiac Silverdome yesterday and failed. According to the demolition contractor as recounted by the Detroit Free Press, “roughly 10% of the explosive charges did not detonate due to a wiring issue.” Now they’ll have to either figure out a way to detonate those charges at a later date — which presumably wold mean fixing wiring in a building that’s on the verge off collapse, which doesn’t sound like a great idea — or taking a more traditional wrecking-ball approach, which also doesn’t sound great but is at least preferable.
And if that’s not enough fun for one morning, here’s the owner of a drone video company telling the Free Press why he hates filming building demolitions:
“It sounds like lobsters being put in a boiling pot, the steel lets out a high-pitched scream,” he said. “It’s definitely sad.”
Stadiums marked for death scream like lobsters being boiled alive! Happy nightmares, everybody.
Qatar is going to build a World Cup stadium partly out of shipping containers, which would allow it to be disassembled and … turned into a bunch of smaller stadiums later, because that’s what Qatar really needs? I’m not entirely clear on the concept here, honestly, but there are some cool pictures if you like dystopian future architecture.
Dave Zirin asked me if subsidy demands like Amazon’s have learned from sports stadium shakedowns over the past couple of decades, and I said no duh.
Hamilton County may be again facing a sales-tax shortfall for paying off Cincinnati Bengals and Reds stadium debt, which means local property taxes will have to be raised to fund the difference. At least they won’t have to sell any hospitals this time.
This actually was reported a couple of weeks ago, but I missed it at the time: Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg says he’s willing to pay about $150 million towards a new $800 million stadium, leaving — math time! — $650 million to be paid by somebody else. This week Sternberg said the team’s contribution “can certainly go up,” but warned that that would prevent him from spending to put a winning team on the field, and, sorry, why does he need a new stadium again if it would cost $800 million but only bring in $150 million worth of benefits? This really would be cheaper all around if he’d just ask St. Petersburg to buy him a first baseman.
“It is going to come down,” said Kristie King, a Southfield-based broker with CBRE, which is marketing the Silverdome property for its private owner, the Triple Investment Group. “We will probably start the demolition process in the spring.”
The idea is that the site will be worth more for redevelopment without a decrepit stadium on it, which will almost certainly be true even if it’s not worth much. It’s another reminder that stadiums are effectively worthless without a team to play in them, which should give pause to city officials counting “ownership of the stadium at the end of the team’s lease” as a public asset, though it probably won’t.
Since we’re on the subject, one piece of the stadium debate that seldom comes up is that of waste. Not waste of money — that comes up all the time, of course — but waste of resources, of labor power, or energy, of carbon footprint, of all the stuff that you use more of by tearing down an existing building and erecting a new one. Not that nobody should ever build anything — and I’ll happily admit that the San Francisco Giants‘ new stadium is an awful lot nicer than the ‘Stick, for example — but there’s a predisposition in American political culture in particular to think of new development only for the jobs and economic activity it creates, without wondering if constantly building structures and then tearing them down again is the most efficient way to run a society.
Anyway, lookit the pretty pictures, but allow yourself a moment to think about the cost of constant upgrades to people’s sports experience, when it even can be considered an upgrade. Had your moment yet? Okay, we’re done.
WXYZ-TV, which shot the above photo, reports that Silverdome officials say that “since they let the air out the roof has been tearing because of the wind and snow. They also say they expected tearing to happen.” The Detroit Free Press says the building’s owners plan on replacing the fabric roof with a fixed roof this summer anyway — one “with solar panels,” according to an earlier report in the Detroit News — but given the mammoth cost of building a new roof, especially on top of a structure that was never designed to hold a fixed roof, color me skeptical. If any Detroit-area journalists are reading this, could you maybe call these guys and ask the followup question: “Wait, are you serious?”
The owner of the Pontiac Silverdome seeks a five-year freeze on property tax payments so the firm can afford a multimillion-dollar upgrade of the empty stadium that is still struggling 10 years after the Detroit Lions left.
Toronto-based Triple Properties wants the tax abatement to help finance a proposed overhaul of the 37-year-old, 80,000-seat domed stadium, a lobbyist for the company said Wednesday.
To be fair, the amount that Silverdome owner Andreas Apostolopoulos is asking for isn’t much: Current property taxes on the place only amount to $80,000 a year, so a five-year freeze isn’t likely to get very far into the six digits, if that much. Though the renovations would be pretty minor, too, costing maybe $4 million and including such decidedly unsexy items as new drainage systems and emergency exits.
In any event, it looks like Apostopoulos is unlikely to get his tax break, as Pontiac emergency manager Lou Schimmel — in case you missed it, half of Michigan local government is now run by these unelected political appointees — just about laughed off the request at a hearing yesterday, snorting, “I thought you were going to make it hard for me. I thought you were going to come in here with a very sophisticated presentation with elaborate drawings about something.” D’oh, Apostopoulos forgot the clear plastic binder!
“We’re gonna spend a lot of money here, create a lot of jobs, meet a lot of new people. It’s not for sale, and it’s never gonna be for sale. … When I seen it, I like it. I knew there was a lotta work to be done. But work doesn’t scare me, you know?”
Apostolopoulos says he’s been approached to use the Silverdome, which costs $1.5 million to maintain even when idle, for events like horse racing, polo, and soccer. The people behind these proposals were described by Apostolopoulos as “some guy” and “another guy.” Though they already have monster trucks lined up, so maybe tomorrow it’ll be major league polo. Or monster truck polo!
The new owner of the Pontiac Silverdome has gone public with his plans for the vacant 80,000-seat facility:
“I like sports and I like being involved with sports, so I hope to bring sporting events people will like,” Andreas Apostolopoulos, chief executive officer of the Toronto-based Triple Properties Inc., said Wednesday. “I’m not just thinking soccer, but football or baseball or whatever.”
This at least explains why Apostolopoulos previously said he’d be putting an MLS franchise in the dome, when MLS has a stated distaste for oversized venues: He has no idea what he’s talking about. Though for a purchase price of $583,000 — I wasn’t the only one to note that this is cheaper than some apartments — he can afford to buy first, and figure out what he’s doing later.