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Silverdome deal faces new court challenge

The Pontiac Silverdome

Paul Sancya

The Toronto real estate developer who bought the Pontiac Silverdome for pennies on the dollar is facing a second court challenge, this time from upset residents who feel the aging sports facility was sold without their consultation.

A group called Citizens for Pontiac argues that the citizens of the Detroit suburb should have been consulted before an auction led to the sale of the stadium to Andrea Apostolopolous for the surprising total of $583,000 (U.S.).

The building - which cost $55.7-million to build in 1975 - housed the Detroit Lions football team and set attendance records in 1987 when it hosted a mass by Pope John Paul II, beating its own previous world record set the same year at WrestleMania III.

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The municipality, crumpling under huge debts and a decreasing tax base, put the building up for auction to save on the $1.5-million annual upkeep costs. Only four bidders stepped forward.

A written opinion is expected Friday, which would determine whether taxpayers should have been consulted before the municipal facility was sold.

Triple Properties - Mr. Apostolopolous' Toronto business - has already withstood one court challenge from a previous bidder who claimed to have been shut out of the second process.

If the deal goes through, Mr. Apostolopolous has said he would like to bring a professional soccer team to the city. He also hopes to stage several large concerts a year.

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