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Michigan's Silverdome sells for $583,000. Yes, you read that right.

Here's all you need to know about the real estate market in Michigan: The 80,000-seat enclosed Silverdome, built for $55.7 million in 1975 to house the Detroit Lions, has sold for $583,000.

And you thought your home had lost its value during this recession.

Think about it this way: $583,000 will get you a decent, but not terrific, house in a nice neighborhood in Northwest Washington.

According to this story from the Detroit News, the Silverdome -- which is a bubble dome, pictures of which you can see here and here -- was hoped to fetch at least $1.3 million; maybe as much as $3 million. The dome comes with 27 acres.

This may be the king of all commercial real estate horror stories of this recession.

I just can't throw enough "Wows!" into this story. Imagine if the Washington Redskins left FedEx Field for a new stadium and the area around it degraded so far so quickly that only 30 years from now, the $250 million stadium sold for $2.5 million, or 1 percent of the cost to build it, as the Silverdome has.

Michigan's economic woes are well known. The state's unemployment rate is 14.3 percent, well above the national rate of 10.2 percent. Two of the state's Big Three automakers went through taxpayer-funded bankruptcy. Heck, the Lions even went 0-16 last year.

Pontiac, the Detroit suburb where the Silverdome is located, is even worse off. The 60,000-person city is in dire straits. It could no longer afford the $1.5 million upkeep on the Silverdome, which has been largely empty since the Lions left for their new Ford Field in 2002.

The city of Pontiac was named for an Ottowa Indian chief but became known as the home and namesake of the GM Pontiac, which was developed and manufactured there, providing decades of prosperity for the city.

But like Pontiac -- which post-bankruptcy GM is allowing to wither and die -- hard times have fallen on the city of Pontiac. In February, the state government declared a financial emergency in Pontiac, which had a $12 million budget shortfall, and placed the city into receivership. The city's unemployment rate is near 35 percent, which is just unimaginable.

This story gets even more bizarre. The Silverdome's new owner, Canadian real estate developer Andreas Apostolopoulos, mailed in a bid for the dome on a whim, when he saw an ad for building's auction in the back of a newspaper, according to this piece in the Toronto Globe and Mail.

According to the paper:

In fairness, Mr. Apostolopoulos didn't expect his bid to be chosen. The 57-year-old doesn't have any experience managing large venues or sports facilities, but does see opportunities. He'll visit the stadium next week, his first real look at the facility.

One more time: Wow.

-- Frank Ahrens
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By Frank Ahrens  |  November 25, 2009; 12:42 PM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Detroit Lions, Pontiac Silverdome, commercial real estate  
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