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.
And we have a winner in the Pontiac Silverdome auction: A Toronto-based real estate company won the 34-year-old former home of the Detroit Lions with a bid of $583,000, or just over 1% of what it cost to build originally. Even though the price was low, getting the stadium into private hands was important for Pontiac’s financial health, according to Fred Leeb, the city’s emergency manager. “Even I have to admit that the number is lower than I would like,” Fred Leeb, Pontiac’s state-appointed emergency financial manager, told the Wall Street Journal. “But I’m happy that we made the decision. Procrastination was literally costing us millions of dollars.”
The names of the Silverdome’s new owners weren’t revealed, but Leeb did say that they plan on using the dome for a Major League Soccer franchise, as well as a pro women’s soccer team. That’s a bit odd, given MLS’s increasing insistence that its teams play in soccer-only stadiums, but I guess at that price, the Toronto group can afford to buy a stadium that it plans to throw away in a couple of years.
If you ever wanted your own domed stadium, wait no longer: The city of Pontiac, Michigan is has started taking bids for the Silverdome, which has been pretty much unused since the Detroit Lions moved out in 2002. There’s no minimum bid, but keep in mind that the place costs $1.5 million a year just to maintain, so it probably wouldn’t make the best starter home. That, and the 200-foot ceilings.