A crowd of 30,514 enthusiastic soccer fans witnessed Italian giants AC Milan defeat Greek powerhouse Panathinaikos, 5-3, in a penalty kick shootout after playing to a scoreless draw Friday night at the Pontiac Silverdome. It was the first soccer event in metropolitan Detroit in 16 years, and the high turnout proves that a Major League Soccer franchise in Detroit is viable, according to Triple Properties LLC. The company, which now owns the mostly dormant dome after winning it in a private auction last year for $583,000, has made it clear that it would like to bring an MLS team to the facility.
"We consider tonight to be a tremendous success," Silverdome spokesperson John Mozena told MichiganLive.com after the game, adding that the "Match of the Titans" draw cost between $2 million and $3 million, on top of the money to fix up the stadium. Mozena said that Friday's game was the first step toward making the Silverdome an entertainment destination specifically for soccer fans.
One of the design possibilities for the dome is splitting the lower bowl into two indoor arenas to house concerts and other sporting events, and then tearing off the roof and creating an open-air 30,000-seat soccer stadium on top.
In related news, the Silverdome did allow vuvuzelas at Friday night's match, despite the results of a fan poll on the venue's website that indicated approximately 60 percent did not want to hear the instrument's incessant buzzing inside the dome. "The numbers were a lot closer than we had expected," Mozena told MichiganLive, so officials decided to "give it a try."