Motor City Memories: So Long Silverdome
It was announced earlier this week that the Pontiac Silverdome would be demolished later this year. The former home of the Detroit Lions and Pistons has not had a major sports tenant since 2001. Time marches on and business is business. However, it is always a bit sad to see these sports and entertainment landmarks go.
Before it meets the dynamite, here is a look back at some memories from the former jewel of the Motor City.
The Birth of “The Bad Boys”
The Pistons called the Silverdome home from 1978-1988. The franchise never won much of anything prior to the hiring of Chuck Daly as head coach in 1983.
Daly had some players to work with. The shining star among them was Isiah Thomas. Bill Laimbeer and Vinnie Johnson were also there. Rick Mahorn, Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman, John Salley and Adrian Dantley soon followed through the draft and trades. Their physical brand of basketball and defense earned them the nickname “The Bad Boys.” They were never afraid to trash talk or commit a hard foul.
The Silverdome played host as the Pistons reached their inaugural Eastern Conference Finals in 1987 and the NBA Finals a year later. They would lose in seven games to Pat Riley’s Lakers.
The Pistons moved to their current home, The Palace of Auburn Hills, following the 1988 season. They christened that building by winning back-to-back NBA championships. The Palace may have seen the culmination of a mini dynasty, but the seeds were planted at the Silverdome.
Super Bowl XVI
The most important pro football game ever played in the Silverdome, given the infamous history of the Lions, was Super Bowl XVI. The San Francisco 49ers, lead by Bill Walsh and Joe Montana, held off a late rally by the Cincinnati Bengals to win 26-21.
The NFC title game is more remembered because of “The Catch.” However, if the 49ers don’t win it all, that moment is diminished significantly. This Super Bowl was the true beginning of the 49ers’ 80s dynasty and the first of four Super Bowls for the Montana/Walsh combo.
The Career of Barry Sanders
The Lions called the Silverdome home from 1975-2001. The building saw just a single playoff win. However, the one thing Lions fans could always hang their hat on was Barry Sanders.
Sanders played home games in the Silverdome for his entire career. Sanders ranks third all-time in rushing yards and also made ten trips to the Pro Bowl. The home fans saw Sanders rush for 184 yards two days after Christmas in 1997 to cap off one of only seven 2000-yard rushing seasons in NFL history.
Sanders had so many breathtaking runs at the Silverdome that it is hard to pick just one. So, enjoy the montage below from the NFL’s YouTube channel.
While pro wrestling stretches the definition of the word “sport,” you cannot talk about the Silverdome without talking about WrestleMania III. The 1987 version of WWE’s biggest annual event packed the Silverdome with over 93,000 fans. It was an indoor sporting event attendance record that stood until 2010.
Most were there to see Hulk Hogan battle Andre the Giant in the main event. Hogan’s slam of the 520 pound mammoth is one of the most iconic moments in the history of American pop culture. At the time, wrestling was as mainstream as it has ever been. For many of today’s millennials, the Silverdome is forever known as where Hulk slammed Andre.
If buildings could talk, the Silverdome would have quite a tale to tell.
“From Our Haus to Yours”