Detroit has been through a lot in the last decade. If you are a hockey fan in your 20’s, it is possible that you may not be aware of the rich history of hockey in Detroit. Long before the Joe Louis Arena was the historic Olympia Stadium on West Grand Boulevard.
It was there the Wings won numerous Stanley Cups and forever cemented themselves as one of the premiere franchises in the NHL. The Olympia was the home of Howe, Lindsay, Sawchuk, Delvecchio and Kelly, arguably one of the best assembly’s ever to come out of Detroit, including The Mustang or the Cadillac.
As the demographics changed, it was necessary for the Wings to locate in Downtown Detroit and Joe Louis Arena was born. The Wings fortunes improved after the move downtown, becoming a hockey powerhouse once again with Scotty Bowman coaching and Yzerman, Linstrom, Fedorov, McCarty and Hasek among others performing well on-ice. In addition, several hall-of-famers such as Shanahan, Coffey, and Hull stopped through.
When it first opened Joe Louis was thought of as a state of the art arena, but over time, like the Olympia, its time passed.
There are very few windows in Joe Louis Arena. The press box looks more like a bar and less like an area for working. The stairways are dark and damp while the concourse isn’t much brighter. Joe Louis, just like the Olympia has been a focal point for NHL games played in HockeyTown.
Last year, the family announced it would be building a new arena. Scheduled to open in the summer of 2017, the Arena is estimate to cost $650 million, according to the Detroit Free Press.
“It’s always been my dream to see a vibrant and energized downtown Detroit,” said Mike Ilitch, chairman, Ilitch Holdings,, in a statement. “I want people to look at Detroit’s new sports and entertainment district and see what I see: the potential for something very special. I couldn’t be more excited and proud to bring this vision to life.”
“The plan is focused more on the revitalization of vacant area in a bankrupt city, but the arena itself will still set trends” said a news report concerning the project..
It will be built to hold 20,000 fans, which is essentially the same as Joe Louis Arena’s capacity. Offices ,concession stands and apparel shops will surround the stadium in separate structures. The arena will include a glass-covered concourse that is linked to the shops and restaurants.
The ice will be built 32 feet below ground and the arena itself will be about three stories high, but will feature a lit up roof that can display the Red Wings logo on game days and other images for concerts.
The plans also call for a hotel, new shops, restaurants and residential areas to surround the area, located near Comerica Park and Ford Field — where the Tigers and Lions play, respectively according to Redwing owner Mike Ilitch.
“Our vision for the new arena is for a one-of-a-kind facility that fits in with its neighborhood, that is authentic to our Detroit roots and offers an unmatched fan experience,” said Christopher Ilitch. “We will build a revolutionary venue for hockey, music, entertainment and community events, and at the same time, a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood surrounding it.”