The Wings have sold out games at home all season, increased attendance at a new arena could generate more revenue for the franchise if they continued to sell out, especially with higher ticket prices.
I've been hearing talk for years about moving the Red Wings out of the Joe Louis Arena (JLA). "The Joe" has been around since 1979 and is due for replacement any year now.
Will they get it? Fans hope so.
The snag? Funding.
Louis Aguilar said it best in an article for the Detroit News:
"Ilitch received $115 million from the city of Detroit, Wayne County and corporate investors and paid the remaining $185 million when he built Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers, in the 1990s. The state financed infrastructure improvements. Economic experts and a pollster speculate that Ilitch won't get as much public aid for an arena."
I had heard rumors years ago about moving the Red Wings out of JLA and turning it into an aquarium, which would be something—quite a place to see fish, eh?
Another rumor I heard was that if the team were to move, they would have a shared arena with the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons play at the Palace of Auburn Hills, a few miles from downtown Detroit—and that facility has been open since 1988.
The other two Detroit professional sports franchises have moved to new facilities in recent years. The Tigers (also owned by Red Wings owner Mike Ilich) moved into Comerica Park in 2000.
Why is it not time for the Wings to move as well?
It wouldn't be the first time the Pistons shared an arena. Up until the Palace was opened, they played their games at the Pontiac Silverdome—former home to the Detroit Lions. If they were to share an arena, don't expect Ilich to put up all the money himself.
One would expect Tom Gores, owner of the Pistons, to front some money for the project as well. This would leave less work for the city to put up money to fund the project.
JLA is becoming an older facility in the NHL, it is the fourth-oldest arena used in the league (Rexall Place [Edmonton], Madison Square Garden [New York Rangers] and Nassau Veterans Memorial Stadium [New York Islanders]).
Madison Square doesn't seem to be going away any time soon, I've heard rumors of a complete move of the Islanders franchise (not likely), and I haven't heard anything about a new arena for Edmonton.
I'd have to say that money isn't as big of a factor as some say it is. The Red Wings are owned by billionaire Mike Ilich, owner and president of Ilich Holdings Inc. Ilich owns the Red Wings, Detroit Tigers, Little Caesars Pizza, Motor City Casino and many other corporations.
There is room in Detroit and I have read several different articles with multiple different ideas for locations for a new arena—the most common is the idea in the story aforementioned. A mall connected to the Arena would be another way for Ilich to generate revenue and pay off the loan for the construction of the stadium.
The way things are going for the Red Wings, another deep playoff run or another Stanley Cup would be reason enough for the Red Wings to build a new arena. If they can get a plan together, what better time to make the announcement—than at the Winter Classic festivities in December 2012 and January 2013.
I guess we'll have to continue to wait and see on the fate of the Joe and the future of the Red Wings in their current home.