Thursday, November 26, 2009

No Wrecking Ball For Pontiac Silverdome

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

When ESPN Los Angeles based Sports Center Anchor Stan Verrett said a judge finalized the sale of the Pontiac Silverdome which sold for a mere $583,000, and to purchase a one bedroom apartment in California was more expensive, that blew my mind!
It took $55.7 million in 1975 to build the Pontiac Silverdome, which at the time was the biggest stadium in the NFL. The stadium sits on a 127 acre pilot. I can't imagine how many square feet a one bedroom apartment would consist of. But I'll guarantee it's not 80,000 seats.
For Football fans, the Pontiac Silverdome was the home of Super Bowl XVI when the San Francisco 49'ers began their dynasty under Joe Montana by defeating the Cincinnati Bengals in 1982. The Detroit Lions last playoff victory occurred under the dome as they pounded the Dallas Cowboys 38-6 on Jan 5, 1992.
Former Heisman Trophy winners Billy Sims and Barry Sanders amassed a lot of yards on that artificial surface which covered cement.
If there is one game that I would soon forget, it was against the Los Angeles Rams on November 17, 1991 when offensive lineman Mike Utley sustained an injury to his sixth and seventh vertebrae. This paralyzed the third year pro from the chest down, but when he flashed his "Thumbs Up" this became a symbol to all of us who became more aware of spinal chord injuries.
I have enjoyed many great Thanksgiving Games in the Silverdome. The pre-game meals were fantastic and the games were entertaining.
But the one game that stands out the most occurred on Nov 26, 1998 was when the Lions defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 19-16 in overtime.
This contest was known as the "Infamous Coin Toss" game as Steelers running back and Detroit native Jerome Bettis watched in disbelief along with millions of national television viewers.
The following season a new rule was created where two officials would handle the coin toss. I can just imagine how former Steelers Coach Bill Cowher feels every time he watches a Thanksgiving Classic in Detroit.
Meanwhile, Bettis would later return to the Pontiac Silverdome which housed the Pittsburgh Steelers during Super Bowl XL, but he had to have flashbacks about how cold his turkey and the rest of his meal tasted after this bitter defeat.
In addition to Thanksgiving Classics, I had many other great memories at the Pontiac Silverdome.
Watching Sanders in his prime and seeing him climb up the NFL's all-time rushing list was tremendous.
I'll never forget the time that I wrote a story on Lesley Visser, who was voted the No.1 Female Sportscaster of all-time. She was the first female NFL analyst on TV and her accomplishments could lead a trail that would go from her home in South Florida to Alaska.
Talking to Utley when he attended Lions games brought chills down my spine and was awesome!
But the moment I'll never forget was taking a photo with Mr. Hockey Gordie Howe during a pre-game press meal. The only downfall of that photo was my left arm was in a sling as a result of a rotator cuff injury sustained in an auto accident as a AAA tow truck ran a red light in West Bloomfield, MI., which sent me spinning into a fire hydrant.
Thankfully, 10 minutes before the crash, I had just dropped off my 79-year old grandmother Sophie Jacobs Morganroth or this incident could have been tragic. I was fortunate that the shoulder injury was the major extent of my injuries.
Nonetheless, a photo with one good wing with Mr. Hockey's elbow in my face is better than nothing, knowing his opponents took the brunt of his elbows on a regular basis. This photo is on my website which is www.scottsports33.com.
Even as I watched Lions rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford lead his young team to a 38-37 win over the Cleveland Browns Sunday at Ford Field as he injured his left shoulder, like myself, at least the outcome turned out positive.
I'm very pleased to hear that a Toronto based family-owned company plans to refurbish the Pontiac Silverdome into a stadium for men's and women's professional soccer teams. Since this venue has hosted Super Bowls, plus World up Games in 1994, at least the worlds version of football will save this facility from getting demolished as historical Tiger Stadium did this year.
Sanders and Visser are proof that all legendary genders can appreciate the past memories here and this $583,000 could be the best money ever spent to create future great moments.
I'm sure that besides my myself, there are many people who have had memories that are priceless!
Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com

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