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The Pontiac Silverdome: from dream arena to symbol of American decay

The stadium was once hailed as the finest sporting venue in the world. On Sunday, its demolition will begin and few will shed any tears for its end

When the Detroit Lions played their first regular season NFL game at the Pontiac Metropolitan Stadium on 6 October 1975, millions of Americans tuned in to witness Michigan’s new 80,000 state-of-the-art facility in all its glory. Alongside Alex Karras and Frank Gifford in the ABC commentators’ booth, legendary broadcaster Howard Cosell described the venue as “the most magnificent football structure of its kind … the finest edifice of its type known to mankind”.

Over the course of the following 20 years the Pontiac Silverdome, as it was quickly rebranded, staged huge events: Super Bowl XVI, WrestleMania III, the 1994 World Cup as well as concerts from artists such as The Who, Elvis Presley, Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, Madonna and Pink Floyd. Pope John Paul II even staged a mass in the arena in front of a reported 93,682 people in 1987.

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