Memories of the Silverdome

I don’t know if it’s just because we’re in the Detroit media area or if it hit the news all over the place.  Anyway, tl;dr – The Pontiac Silverdome which used to be the home of the Detroit Lions Football team began the process of destruction recently.  The Detroit Lions have moved to a new stadium, Ford Field, in downtown Detroit in recent years.

It didn’t go well.

As with stadiums like this, the destruction was done by implosion.  And, as well in times like these, it was televised.  The only problem was that it didn’t come down the first time!

Of course, that’s just fodder for media and social media and the smart aleck comments were flying.  My favourite was that the stadium was “Built Ford Tough”.  Again, another Detroit-ism.  There are some witty comments on that video.

It took a second try …

You can see, in the first video, that the structure still looks pretty good although it was missing the dome; it’s a shame that the building had to come down but, business is business, I guess.  I can’t imagine the cost of maintaining something like that.  You’d have to have lots of big events booked.

I was a visitor to the Silverdome on a number of occasions.  A couple come to mind and I doubt that I’ll ever forget them.

The first memory was to a football game.  The Lions were playing the Dallas Cowboys and I went with a bus load of teachers from my school.  There were four of us senior football coaches who sat together so that we could analyze plays and think about incorporating them in our program.

I remember the seats.  I’m sure that you’ve heard the expression “nose bleed”.  That was us.  Not only were the seats very high up, but they were in an end zone and that makes this story so memorable.

The Lions were marching down to score.  In this case, the seating was great.  We really just looked down on the plays as they were happening.  Plus, I had brought binoculars so I could see all the details.  Our head coach was sitting right next to me and was asking if I could see the label on the ball.  Being nice, I offered him my binoculars so that he could check it out for himself.

That’s where the memory got vivid!  As I handed him the binoculars, the third quarter ended.  You know what that means.  Whistle goes, they mark the spot and the football goes to the same position at the other end of the field.

Do the math. 100 yard field, 10 yard end zone, area at the end of the field and then the angle of depression to the opposite end.  Miles?

Coach got to see the score live.  I got to watch the big screen!  In retrospect, that’s why he was the head coach.  He knew all about time management.

My second memory is about the loudest noise I think I’ve ever heard in my life.  With two of my best friends, we went to WrestleMania III.  One of my friends hated professional wrestling but went because he wanted to be part of things with us.  (and he drove).  The other friend lived and breathed professional wrestling and he talked us into buying these really expensive tickets to be in the pit rather than sitting up in the seats.  He wanted to see all the details.  Me?  I had wrestled in high school but it’s nothing like professional wrestling.  It was just pure entertainment.

It was a night of headline matches and the big one was for the World Championship between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, the 8th Wonder of the World.

The setting was electric.  There was something about the setting that was really unique; with the ring in the middle of the football stadium, it was a long distance from the change rooms so the wrestlers were driven to the ring on a cart.  It made for even more excitement before the match started.  Of course, there was the signature music and the cheering of the crowd.  I’d been to a number of football games and it’s loud with the covered stadium but I’d never heard anything like this.

It was also a long event.  I’ll be honest and acknowledge that I was getting tired toward the end.  But then, Hogan comes to the ring and then Andre follows.  I remember being in awe at the huge size of Andre the Giant.  He looks big on television but even larger in person.  I completely forgot about being tired.  This was entertainment.

It was a long match; the last part you can see above.  I keep looking in the crowd to see if I could see myself.  We were that close.

It you watch the video, right near the very end, Hogan does his signature drawing power from the crowd move before finishing Andre off.  The crowd went nuts encouraging him.  It was SO LOUD.  But, that was nothing like the noise when Hulk pinned Andre.  I’ve never stood next to a jet airplane with its engine on but I can’t imagine that it would much louder than the noise that night in the Silverdome.  Say what you will about professional wrestling, this was a noisy, painful moment that I’ll never forget.

I know that time moves on and you see destruction of the classic stadiums these days as new venues are created and a lot, like Ford Field, appear in the heart of cities.

Yet, it’s somehow very sad to watch the destruction of the Pontiac Silverdome on television.  In another set of circumstances, it would still be going strong.

It sure has memories for me.

OTR Links 12/09/2017

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