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The Pontiac Silverdome opened in 1975. in Pontiac, Michigan. For the next 26 years the venue was home field to the NFL's Detroit Lions. It also hosted the Detroit Pistons for a time as well as several college and minor league teams. But personally the Silverdome became a favorite of mine as it was the site of Wrestlemania III. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jL-SxOAJfQo It's hard to believe that 30 years have passed since March 29, 1987. It's one of the few Wrestlemanias I can still remember the exact date of. While Andre the Giant and Hogan headlined the event, Ricky Steamboat and Randy Savage nearly stole the show with an insane, non-stop 14 minute thriller that saw many tide changes and two counts. But most of all, WMIII was remembered for being big. Everything about it was big. Even Andre, normally billed at 7'4”, gained an extra inch and was 7'5” for one magical night. There was a lot of exaggeration and years later just about everything has been called into question. Some say that the claim of 93,173 fans in attendance wasn't true and that they couldn't have fit more than 78,000 to 80,000. And it's been pointed out that Andre had lost several matches cleanly prior to this. True, but to the best of my knowledge the statement that the Giant never lost in the WWF is also correct. Anyway, after WM III, the Silverdome continued to hold many other events. It saw Super Bowl XVI in 1982. The NFL's championship game would return to Michigan in 2006 but this one was held at the Silverdome's replacement, Ford Field, in downtown Detroit. Almost everything has a life span and that's especially true of sports arenas. After the Lions left in 2001, the Silverdome closed in 2006 and was briefly reopened in 2010. Its doors were shut for good in 2013 and has been awaiting demolition ever since. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1omCkYTa7Ko I'm not sure when exactly the fabric roof came down but it's sad to see the tattered pieces strewn about. Pretty sad. Now it just looks like a dead outdoor football field. If it's any consolation, the next dome to host a WrestleMania, Skydome in Toronto, is alive and well as the Rogers Centre.
It looks like we are bidding farewell to TWO NFL venues this winter. The first to close was Qualcomm Stadium which began life as an MLB/NFL cookie cutter to house the Padres and the Chargers together. But multipurpose stadiums fell out of favor by the 1990s and so the Padres moved to the friendly confines of Petco Park in downtown San Diego. Meanwhile, the Chargers soldiered on in the aging arena. Qualcomm's last Super Bowl was hosted in January 2003. It was made clear that if the NFL was going to award another Super Bowl to San Diego, a new stadium would have to be built. Football facilities over a certain age are basically barred from holding the big game. Two notable exceptions though are the Superdome in New Orleans and the Dolphins Stadium in Miami. As long as they make regular upgrades, they'll continue to get a pass from the league since those cities are very popular Super Bowl venues. Anyway, the NFL and Chargers have approached city, county, and state governments several times for assistance to finance a new field. But in each case the Chargers were asking for more public money than was acceptable. I agree that sports stadiums shouldn't get excessive public subsidies but I still feel bad about San Diego's situation. Anyway, a last ditch referendum was put before voters last fall to raise money for construction and it was rejected. It was pretty much known that if it failed to pass the Chargers were leaving San Diego. The strange thing is, the Chargers already celebrated a potential Qualcomm Stadium finale last season as they were then first offered the option to go in on the Los Angeles Rams stadium with Stan Kroenke. Despite a hefty NFL relocation fee, being a tenant in the Rams stadium, and having to split the Los Angeles market with them, the Bolts ultimately decided to make the move. Anyway, here is a nice, concise overview of Jack Murphy/Qualcomm Stadium's history. After years of sharing the dual-use Fulton County stadium with the Braves, the Falcons finally got an upgrade. Atlanta's Georgia Dome opened in 1992 and became the NFL team's new home. At the time it was well received. The Georgia Dome hosted the Super Bowl twice in 1994 and in 2000. But supposedly it didn't measure up very well compared to its peers that have opened in the years since? I dunno...25 years seems like an awful short life span for a sports venue but this guy makes a pretty good case for why the time had come to replace it. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1647485-yes-we-have-it-straight-atlanta-does-need-a-new-stadium-for-the-falcons In any event, the political climate in Georgia is different from California and getting public financing to complete stadium deals is relatively easy there. I visited Atlanta in 2015 and it was something else to see the Georgia Dome and its future replacement under construction right next to it. Here is the In One Minute piece on the Georgia Dome. At least the Falcons managed to send the dome out in style with a victory that led to their appearance in Super Bowl LI. Plenty of teams, including the Philadelphia Eagles, closed out their previous digs with a disappointing loss. Next month's dead building feature will discuss a former NFL venue that is known for hosting one of the most popular WrestleManias of all time.
Baltimore is an interesting city I started visiting back in the 1990s. It had a relatively new rail transit system with a subway line and a light rail service reaching out from the center of the city. Two of those lines terminated near enclosed malls. Those were Owings Mills and Hunt Valley and today both are defunct. Hunt Valley has long since been replaced with a lifestyle and power center and this article focuses solely on Owings Mills. It opened in 1986 to great success and included upscale stores like Saks and Williams Sonoma. But as the years went on competing malls underwent renovations and began to draw those shoppers away. Several well publicized crimes also scared away shoppers including the murder of a mall employee as she was walking between her job and the Baltimore Metro subway station in 1992. By the 2000s the mall had a higher than average vacancy rate and the Great Recession ended any hope of a comeback. During my 2014 trip to Bronycon, I spent most of my time hanging out with fellow forum members. But for several hours on Sunday, I was nowhere near the convention. Instead, I was taking what would be my last trip to Owings Mills Mall. The end had already been announced for that property. The landlord was going to demolish it and replace it with an open air mixed use development of apartments, office, and retail space. By then the place was almost a total ghost town with just a handful of stores and, I think, one vendor left in the food court which was presumptuously called the Conservatory. About a year later in September of 2015 the doors closed for the last time. Here is one of Dan Bell's first Dead Mall Series entries. It lacks the vaporware music and thoroughly produced introductions that his later videos are known for. But it's still a great overview of the mall in its final months. Dan did a second video of this mall after dark and with the limited light the place looks strikingly different. Now here's a rare peek into Owings Mills after it was formally closed. Fixtures and items were being auctioned off and thus the public was allowed in on one final occasion. Be sure to check out how it looks now. That's it for this month. In September, I will be taking a break from dead malls to talk about another famous edifice that will soon be meeting its fate. See ya then!
This is the first of what may or may not be an ongoing series for me. But I've been on a mall kick lately and I'm focusing on dead and dying malls in particular as they may not be around much longer. To start things off, I am posting a little feature on the colorful Forest Fair Village which is also called Cincinnati Mills and Cincinnati Mall. It has had several name and ownership changes through the years since it opened in 1989. To my knowledge it has never been fully occupied although it did enjoy brief periods of success. This is a huge mall with over 1.5 million square feet of space with room for about 150 stores maximum. Today it is said to have between 4 and 7 interior businesses that are still open. Forest Fair may be the deadest mall today in terms of the percentage of space occupied that hasn't closed altogether. One of the big draws here is the anchor store Bass Pro Shops. But they are expected to relocate to a new building in the Cincy area in 2016. At that time, observers expect Forest Fair's doors to close for good. But for now, visitors can still walk in and enjoy the building's unique décor. "Nickelodeon just called, they want their studio back!" The first video is from mysticblu who gives a complete walkthrough of all the areas that are still open to the public. And here's one more from Dan Bell who has a popular dead malls series on Youtube.