Joe Louis Arena opened in 1979, and is located downtown and sandwiched between a
parking ramp, expressways on 2 sides, and the Detroit River. Despite its location, this
building is totally segregated from anything else that downtown Detroit has to offer. The
only way to get to the arena is by navigating a set of pedestrian walkways which lead you to
the doors of the building... no lobby, no atrium, just doors to the concourse flung open to
the cold air outside. The building is grey and nondescript, the pedestrian walkways and
adjoining structures are grey and bland... greatfully, the area between the building and the
river has been fixed up with a pleasant riverwalk. This by far is the nicest side of the
building as the rest of the arena is surrounded by ugly ramps and bridges.
Once you walk into the building (and step through the metal detector under the scowling
gaze of a cadre of beefy security guards...ugggghhhh!), you walk into a wide concourse with
very high ceilings, and a cornucopia of murals, banners, and memorabilia saluting Detroit
hockey greats - the names Howe, Lindsay, Delvecchio, Sawchuk and Yzerman are
everywhere... old black and white photos brought over from the old Olympia reminded us of
similar photos which adorned the halls of Maple Leaf Gardens.
The team does a great job of organizing concessions.. every bit of wall space has a food
stand, souvenir stands or memorabilia shops. Lines are short and quick. Of course Mike
Ilitch's Little Caesars Pizza and subs are the highlighted fare.
The "obstructed view" seats in rows 25-27 were horrible - basically they were in a nook at
the top of the building where the pitch of the balcony ended, so if you sat in those seats,
you could see everything from the blue line on and that is it. Gratefully a kind usher let us
sit in better seats which were unoccupied.
The Redwings have a season ticket base of over 16,000 seats, leaving less than 2000 seats
available on a game to game basis. Furthermore, they package Redwings tickets with
college hockey games to promote those games (i.e. buy a college 7 pack and you can
choose 2 Redwings games of your choice). Ticket prices? Top ticket is $150, and the
cheapest (not including the obstructed which they only have a few of) is $41..... $41 for a
seat location comparable to Buffalo's 300 level III seats!
When we told people sitting around us that Buffalo's premium ticket was $75, and that
comes with parking... that our 100 level season tickets are 18 rows off the glass and cost
$38... oh and Sabrebuck rebates... the Detroiters were just flabbergasted, and really
questioned how Buffalo people could not be kicking down the door to take advantage of
the good deal, especially since our team has been competitive.
Overall we would have to say that this has been one of our WORST NHL arena experiences,
and more closely represents the image of the bad old Detroit. This city has just opened a
fabulous baseball stadium in Comerica Park, and right next door, beautiful Ford Field will be
home to the Lions starting in 2002. Casinos are now open, Greektown is the new
entertainment district, the area around Comerica Park is really cool and their downtown is
finally starting to come back. The only thing saving this NHL venue is the "Hockeytown"
theme mystique and the team's recent successes.
Hat tricks, Assists, Penalties
Penalty (and game misconduct) - Those metal detectors. What a horrible way to greet your
customers as they arrive! As we walked around the concourse before the game and walked
past the various entrances, those things were constantly chirping.. people being
detained..women were removing earrings and spilling purse contents onto tables. This is
no way to treat the fans.
Hat trick- Actually nothing to do with the arena itself, but rather the "Hockeytown Cafe",
which is owned by the team. Ideally it should have been next to the arena, but it is located
the other side of downtown right across from Comerica Park... the layout is great,
consisting of a bar, restaurant, interactive games and a comedy club; and the outdoor
marquee consists of a huge jumbotron video board and a times square style streaming
information ticker... very impressive!
Go to Detroit, visit Comerica Park, or take in a Lions game, but AVOID this wretched place.
We can certainly understand and feel the passion of these dedicated Redwings fans who
snap up every available seat, and the tradition of one of the Original Six teams really comes
alive here. But going against all of this is the cruddy neighborhood, the shabby building,
and an NHL venue that is so far behind the curve compared to its peer facilities. We made
the best of things, but between the metal detector and the wretched seats we were dealt,
we have to say we were kind of soured to this place from the minute we parked our car to
begin the evening. Our Sabres losing in OT was a fitting ending.
Food and team store 6
Scoreboard and electronics 3.5
Fan support 10
Location and neighborhood 2
Banners and history 10
In game entertainment 5.5
Concourses/fan comfort 3
Bonus: Octopus 2, Hockeytown1, Joe Louis statue 2