When it was built in 1975, the Pontiac Silverdome was among the top tier of NFL stadiums. It had 82,000 seats and was home to the Detroit Lions. Now, it is for sale for $30 million, or maybe less.
The stadium’s financials were ruined in 2001 when the Lions moved downtown to the new Detroit Ford Field. The Silverdome was repurposed to host monster truck and wrestling events. They were not enough to support the cost of maintaining the facility. Coincidentally, both Pontiac and Detroit have been destroyed by the recession and downturn in the car industry. It turned out that the Lions moved from one blighted area to another.
The current owner, Triple Investment Group, bought the stadium at auction in 2009 for $583,000, according to the Detroit Free Press. If it can sell the Silverdome for $30 million, the group would make a huge profit. However, the stadium is a wreck and has no ready attraction for any owner. Among other things, it would need to be repaired, which would certainly cost tens of millions of dollars.
As a contrast to how far the Silverdome’s value has fallen, insurance company MetLife Inc. (NYSE: MET) is paying $16 million a year for naming rights to the stadium where the New York Giants and New York Jets play. Levi’s is paying $220 million over 11 years for the naming rights to the stadium where the San Francisco 49ers play. The Silverdome might have been able to get naming rights, 20 years ago, before the Lions left.
Perhaps the Lions left because Pontiac had become a wreck, both financially and in terms of infrastructure. Maybe it was too far from the fan base in Detroit. Or maybe the Ford family wanted its own stadium with the car company’s name as a means to promote Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) products.
A $30 million price tag for any stadium that holds over 80,000 should be cheap. Unless it is so run down that not a single person would want to sit in any of its seats.