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Political Games at the Pontiac Silverdome?

The woes in the Michigan real-estate market were dramatically underscored yesterday when the Pontiac Silverdome, once home to the Detroit Lions football team, was sold at auction for $583,000. The stadium, which opened in 1975 and was home to the Lions until they returned to Detroit proper in 2002, cost $55.7 million to build.

Now, the situation has been complicated further because an Oakland County judge halted the sale shortly after an injunction was filed by a development company that claimed it wanted to buy the Silverdome for $17.5 million last year. The company, Silver Stallion Development Corp., also says it was also shut out of  yesterday's bidding and that its purchase agreement to buy the dome is still valid. The city, though, says the contract has expired and that the company failed to pony up $250,000 to join yesterday's bidding.

Looking at it now, I don't see how the city can't take the 583 grand.

I mean, I'd love to see the Silverdome become the $250-million entertainment complex that the Silver Stallion folks said they'd convert it into. After all, selling the Silverdome for a fraction of what it cost to build the place nearly 35 years ago represents a huge "L" for the city of Pontiac. And I think the stadium, which sits near key freeways in the richest county in the state, is really worth well more than that, so it seems clear the city is getting badly lowballed, gypped even.

On the other hand, the place is costing the city $1.5 million a year to maintain, and it's not generating any real tax revenue. Meanwhile, Pontiac is $103 million in the hole. I can't help but wonder why the group that says it wanted to buy the joint in 2008 ago didn't just drop the cash on the city and move in.

And even if, as the injunction charges, the black mayor of Pontiac was indeed racially biased against the civil-rights attorney who heads Silver Stallion, Pontiac is run by an state-appointed emergency financial manager now. The mayor doesn't have any power. So if you're Silver Stallion, why not pony up the $250,000, get in the bidding and scoop the place up for, say, $16 million less than what you originally offered? Or why not file an injunction before the auction if you think your original purchase contract is still valid?

In lieu of any of this, I'm left wondering whether this development company ever really had the money to make that $17.5 million deal, let alone the $250-million conversion. If I'm wrong and it does, I hope these developers somehow are allowed to buy the Silverdome for more, just because I know that place, though no longer a state-of-the-art facility, should still fetch more than half-million bucks.

But it seems like they're just blowing smoke. If so, like I said, I can't see how the city has any choice but to take the 5oo grand from the auction (and yes, the big "L" that goes with it). I just hope that, in the long run, the city can make it up if/when the Silverdome ever goes back on the local tax rolls. In a climate like ours, a place like Pontiac needs all the tax dollars it can get.

You think I'm right or wrong on this one? And why?

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  • 1

    It pains me to say this Darrell but I actually agree wholeheartedly with you on this story. For 583,000$ you could have a fairly nice house in W. Bloomfield or the Silverdome?!?! The motives of the company filing the injunction are suspect at best and in the case of real estate, if it sounds fishy it probably is. People don't forget about bidding rules when purchasing property, even if their looking for a good deal. The 250k is pocket change compared to original 17 million so why they didn't get in on the cheaper bids? My guess is that they don't have the original cash and are making a play for a much reduced rate now that they see it's a buyers market... after the fact. BTW Darrell - Thanks for a story that doesn't have a blatant far-left political agenda, it's informative blogging about Metro Detroit with well thought deductive reasoning. This is what I had hoped to see on this site from the beginning. Kudos.

  • 2

    I second that opinion - and sentiment!

  • 3

    You're absolutely right. Somethin's fishy. Good questions and observations.

    Thanks for a great story. Hadn't heard all these facts put together prior to this.

  • 4

    Canadian owners?
    Sports mad detroiters?
    Down on the Lions?

    OK, strange, wierd?
    They did it for a time in Baltimore
    The CFL seems to be able to survive on 30-40,000 attendance.

  • 5

    With the economy in Detroit/Pontiac/Windsor the CFL may not want to place a franchise in Windsor, Ontario and play out of the nearby Silverdome but with the proximity of the Silverdome to Ontario the CFL and the CIS (NCAA of Canadian college sports would have some interest in using the Silverdome for some events. Although the CFL and NFL would never play any kind of inter-league game or all star game the CIS and the NCAA may. It has been rumored that the CIS is interested in playing an All Star bowl game against NCAA Schools. With the CFL rosters made up of 50% US players this may not be a bad idea. Of course the top NCAA Playes would not participate in such a game. a second tier of NCAA College Football Seniors would most likely jump at the chance to play in such an All Star Bowl. It has been rumored that the CIS would be willing to play under US football rules and field dimensions. It is perfectly located on the border of Ontario where there are 10 CIS football programs. Perhaps even a game between the CIS all Stars and a group of college seniors from the state of Michigan were to play. These players could be chosen from FBS, FCS, division II, and Division III schools. There are a ton of colleges and universites in Michigan at all three of these levels and would give the CFL scouts a real chance to look at some Hidden US talent and to see how the CIS players would perform. NFL scouts do not do much scouting in Canada but here they may also find some hidden talent.
    Although it is no longer a brand new facility silverdome has been upgraded and is still a fine facility to watch a football game.

  • 6

    With the CFL ready to expand to 9 teams in 2014 and most likely team 10 in 2016 in the Atlantic region that would mean 50 more football jobs for US players. The Silverdome could play i vital role in this as its location is perfectly set bordering Ontario in Big 10 country. The CFL had to put in a low salry cap along with a low minimum salary to become stable again. now that its stable with a new TV contrct to be signed in 2014. games are shown nationally in canada on TSN. TSN also produces games on the NFL network Naionally in the US with the NFL Network showing 2 games a week in 2011 and will probably increase. CFL also has a french sports network contract in the eastern Region for the almost 4 million french language canadians in the Montreal metro area along with almost 2 million more across quebec, 1.3 million in ontario, and about 600,000 in the atlantic region where team 10 will most likely be expanded to Halifax with the building of their new stadium for soccers women's world cup in 2015. The CFL is celebrating its 100th Grey Cup championship game in 2012 which will most likely launch the CFL to its biggest popularity ever the revenue generated by fans in two countries and Silverdome sitting rite on Canadas Ontario border and the football popularity in michigan and other Big 10 schools silverdome could really become a part of a link between the US border staes and its players and the CFL

  • 7

    [...] since we all love anything Lions-related, I want all my fellow Detroit Lions football fans to check out detroit.blogs.time and tell me what you think about[...]

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