The owners of the Pontiac Silverdome have set their sights on professional soccer.
As the CONCACAF Gold Cup takes place in downtown Detroit tonight, the owners of the Lions' old stomping grounds have submitted a request for an expansion MLS team to play in the domed stadium. However, it is not a lock that the area will land a team as the MLS has its own agenda at the moment:
"MLS is aware of the interest from the Apostolopoulos family in securing an MLS team in Detroit," MLS spokesperson Will Kuhns said in an e-mail. "The League maintains its current focus on New York as a possible home for the 20th team."
MLS has four basic criteria for expansion teams: (1) Committed long-term ownership with deep pockets, (2) Approved plan to build a soccer-specific stadium where the team would control revenue streams such as parking and concessions, (3) A healthy media market and (4) A strong soccer fanbase.
The strong soccer fanbase may be there already as the CONCACAF game tonight is expected to draw 25,000 fans at Ford Field and the exhibition match last year at the Silverdome between AC Milan and Panathinaikos drew 30,00 people. But there is no question that the Silverdome, which seats roughly 80,000, is just too big.
The Apostolopoulos family has major renovation plans for the dome, which was vacated by the Lions in 2001. Firstly is to remove the trademark dome and create a 30,000 seat outdoor stadium with natural grass. But then, you can't call it the Silverdome, can you? Here's the full rundown of the plan:
At the stadium's ground level, will be a convention center/concert hall as well as 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 outdoor soccer stadium with natural grass. The current upper deck will essentially act as a lower bowl for the outdoor stadium.
Basically, it will transform the Silverdome into a 2-in-1 stadium, which is one of the most radical ideas I've ever seen for the renovation of an existing stadium. One thing is certain: the Silverdome won't look much like the Silverdome in the coming years.