November 17, 2009

Silverdome fetches $583,000

Soccer teams could use it


The Pontiac Silverdome and its 127 adjacent acres could become home to a Major League Soccer team now that the city has accepted a bid of $583,000 from a Toronto-based real estate company to buy the facility.

Williams & Williams, the Tulsa, Okla., real estate firm conducting the auction of the vacant stadium, announced Monday that the unidentified winning bidder plans to use the complex for a men's Major League Soccer team and women's professional soccer.

"Many people said they were going to be bidding tens of millions of dollars and that's easy to say if you're not going to put up the money," said Fred Leeb, Pontiac's emergency financial manager.

A purchase price of $583,000 shows how depressed the real estate market has become.

In 2005, suburban developers headed by the firm Schostak Brothers offered nearly $20 million for the Silverdome, but the deal fell apart as the city delayed taking the offer.

And last year, a $17.5-million plan to turn it into a horse racetrack, hotel and conference center also fell through.

"A number of people talked about plans, but no one came up with the money," Leeb said.

As far as an MLS team coming to Pontiac, Senior Vice President Dan Courtemanche said Monday night: "Although we have reviewed the Detroit market since the league's inception, we are not in any discussions with the Silverdome to bring a Major League Soccer team to Detroit."

MLS Commissioner Don Garber said Monday in his state of the league address that he believes the league, which currently has 15 teams, will eventually have 20, but did not give a timetable.

The successful bidder's name is to be released when final details are worked out and the sale closes, which could take up to 45 days, Leeb said.