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They Want To Do What To The Silverdome?

When the Silverdome was taken over by new owners last year, the plan from day one was to utilize it as a venue for soccer. Other events can obviously be hosted at the Silverdome, but the new owners had a vision of soccer being played in the Lions' former home, with the ultimate hope being to bring a Major League Soccer team to the area.

That dream of Detroit (or Pontiac, rather) having an MLS team isn't feasible with the current state of the Silverdome. Aside from the fact that the stadium is in need of additional renovations, it is quite simply too large to host an MLS team. Sure, you could just tarp off the upper deck or something, but the atmosphere wouldn't be very good, which is why the owners of the Silverdome have a very unique idea to make their stadium more soccer friendly, among other things.

To achieve a reasonable stadium size, the Apostolopoulos family plans to remove the dome and divide the stadium into three sections. At the stadium's ground level, will be a concert hall and a multi-purpose arena, capable of hosting hockey, basketball, and other indoor sports.

Resting on top of those two indoor facilities, will be a roughly 30,000-seat soccer stadium with natural grass. The current upper deck will essentially act as a lower bowl for the outdoor stadium.

Considering how expensive it would be to retrofit the Silverdome in a way that divides it into three sections, you would think it would be smarter and more cost effective to simply tear it down and rebuild on the same land. The Philadelphia Union just built a soccer-specific stadium that opened earlier this summer, and it cost $120 million. The capacity is only 18,500 for soccer, and obviously you would have to add demolition of the Silverdome and perhaps the building of a standalone concert hall/multi-purpose arena to the construction cost, but in the end it would be a better investment in my mind. While around 30,000 people showed up for a friendly between AC Milan and Panathinaikos last Friday, there's no guarantee that many people would come to MLS games, and you can bet a soccer-specific stadium would provide a better atmosphere for fans.

At the end of the day, I'm no soccer buff outside of watching the World Cup every four years, but I have to admit that this talk about bringing an MLS franchise to the area is interesting. I can't say that I would attend any games or make sure I don't miss one on TV, but there does seem to be a market for soccer in southeast Michigan. What's more, if the plan to completely change the Silverdome actually happens, then suddenly people will have a few reasons to make the trip to Pontiac.