The Detroit comeback story is alive and well this week, as the Ilitch family and Olympia Development cut the ribbon and opened its doors for the first previews of the new Little Caesars Arena. The family, who owns both the Detroit Red Wings and the Tigers, has worked for years to build a new hockey venue for its team. With a lot of planning and tax dollars, the impressive arena is ready for its debut.
Curbed toured the new arena on Wednesday, as crews continued to get ready for Saturday’s public tours and Tuesday’s first ticketed event. As far as arenas go, the LCA took players, coaches, artists, and fans into consideration in the unveiling of the multi-level, multi-experience destination. The arena is just one part of the Olympia-named District Detroit, which will encompass 50 blocks downtown and through Cass Corridor.
The concourse of the LCA is no regular arena concourse. The Via brings light into the four-story retail and restaurant area, welcoming guests to watch the game projected on the jewel skin that wraps around the concourse.
The interior of the arena has over 2,000 TVs, so visitors can catch the game at any vantage point. Guests attending games will find their portals to take them to their section. The arena is also filled with Red Wings and Pistons memorabilia; we imagine many will take their time to check out the museum-like displays throughout the structure. The bench from the Joe Louis Arena is here with a fun photo op.
One of the surprises comes with the original Olympia sign, right next to a large painting of Red Wings legend Gordie Howe.
On the higher levels, the concourse also offers views—for now. Olympia CEO Tom Wilson pointed out the “money shot,” looking straight into downtown. A hotel in early construction will obstruct that view at some point. On the other side, we noticed a different view, looking past some of the other Olympia-owned properties all the way to Michigan Central Station.
Outside, Olympia is hoping for a thriving fan experience. Plazas are set up for visitors to watch a big screen, perhaps catch a performance, and eat or drink as they please. An all-seasons restaurant is set up in the Budweiser Lounge, and the Chevy Plaza hopes to attract performers on a smaller stage.
The main attraction is the ice itself, and Olympia had it lit up in bright purples and pinks for the media to enjoy. We imagine fans will experience a sensory overload at their events.
Behind the scenes, the LCA offers lux amenities for artists and players. Artists won’t be using the facility’s training rooms; instead, they’ll have a five-room artist compound.
Remember the Park Avenue Hotel right next to the Eddystone? It was demolished for some loading docks. Four semis at a time can unload their equipment. The Eddystone is in the very early stages of renovation outside the arena.
The impressive Red Wings locker room is lined with photos of past players. The practice ice is home to a family room, where players’ friends and family can hang out during training. The practice ice is also home to the Little Caesars Amateur hockey team, and has seats and concessions for fans and family.
Also included on the tour were suites and clubs where fans with special tickets can eat, drink, and relax during the games. The first concert is September 12 and the first hockey game at the arena is a preseason game on September 23. Here’s more from around Detroit’s new arena, as it gets ready to finally open its doors to the public.