Detroit Red Wings: Why Joe Louis Arena Needs To Be Buried

Jordan MatthewsAnalyst IIIJune 13, 2011

Joe Louis Arena was opened in 1979 to replace Olympia Stadium.
Joe Louis Arena was opened in 1979 to replace Olympia Stadium.

It's topic of discussion that has had Red Wings fans at each other's throats for the last few years: replacing Joe Louis Arena with something new.

Many Red Wings fans believe that too much history has taken place in Joe Louis Arena to move the Red Wings. On the other side of the spectrum are Wingnuts who will claim that the NHL's best team of the last two decades deserves an arena that is state of the art.

For the fans who claim Joe Louis Arena's history should be enough to keep the Red Wings there, I will only say this: The Colosseum is a historic building for sporting events as well, but I'd never subject fans through having to endure its many flaws 41 times a year.

ESPN's John Buccigross stated that the Red Wings needed a new arena...He said that in 2002.

Many people will even claim that Joe Louis Arena was outdated when it was built.

So why is there all this distaste for the legendary Detroit arena? Well, for starters, it's a safety hazard. With only two main entrances and exits to the building, Joe Louis Arena could be the center of a disaster if something like a terrorist attack or a fire took place. That's just the hazardous part of it; it's also just a pain in the rear end in general to only have two access points.

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On top of lack of access into and out of the building, many people complain that the stairs in Joe Louis Arena are very steep, and at certain areas on the outside of the arena, are breaking apart. I don't even want to know how many people have tripped, rolled ankles or potentially risked other injuries due to this building flaw. It's certainly not friendly to the elderly part of Detroit's fan base.

Aside from Joe Louis Arena's hazardous flaws are its many construction flaws and functioning flaws. Have you ever flipped to a Red Wings game and wondered why the lower bowl is so empty? There's multiple reasons for that.

First of all, parking and traffic going to and from The Joe are a mild form of hell on earth. Joe Louis Arena is located in a back corner of downtown Detroit. Do a Google Maps search of 600 Civic Center Drive. Done? How easy does it look to traffic 20,066 people to and from games 41 times a year in that little closet space area of downtown Detroit?

Secondly, Joe Louis Arena's suite arrangements are horrible. The very few suites they do have are all with the bats in the rafters. By comparison, The United Center in Chicago has 169 suites.

Why is a lack of good suite placement bad for the Red Wings? Simply put, suites are targeted toward the richer audience. Detroit can't accommodate the wealthier consumer in this way, which causes all the businessmen to purchase the lower bowl season tickets. Then, when they only want to go to four games a year, the tickets are purchased and go unused.

Is that not enough reason for Detroit to need a new arena? Well, here's more.

There are two concession areas and two bathrooms in the entire building. Have you ever watched a Wings home game and noticed how five minutes into the third period you'll still see people walking in to take their seats? That's because when they left the bathroom or the concession stand, there were still 50 other people waiting in line. It happens in almost every home game. It's not only inconvenient, but also uncomfortable, especially for the female audience.

So why the holdup on an arena? Pretty simple. Mike Ilitch doesn't want to pay for it. I can't really blame him. City ownership of an arena has worked well so far for both the City of Detroit and the Red Wings. The Red Wings lease it for a very low price and the City of Detroit makes money from other events.

Ilitch first wanted to use the Pistons return to Detroit as a bargaining chip to have the venue host both the Red Wings and the Pistons, but after Tom Gores bought the Pistons and the Palace of Auburn Hills, that option seems unlikely. So until Detroit can finally manage to scrape up the money or Ilitch decides to build it himself, don't expect a new arena in the next five years.

Regardless, the only things that shouldn't be buried with Joe Louis Arena are the boards (there's a reason they call them the slingshot boards), the banners and the memories.


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