OT: New Red Wings Arena?

Submitted by the_big_house 500th on May 24th, 2010 at 1:01 AM

I personally hope this is just a rumor but are the Detroit Red Wings going to possibly have a new arena in 2012? Tearing down the Joe is almost like burning the Bible in my opinion it is blasphemy. Is there any more news about this up in Michigan right now?


Monocle Smile

May 24th, 2010 at 1:11 AM ^

But I've heard rumors about this, and the prevailing rumor on top of this rumor is that the new stadium would also be named Joe Louis Arena, which is an excellent idea (along with telling Comerica to fuck themselves and name the baseball field Ernie Harwell Park). Being from Detroit, the Joe is a sacred place to me and part of me would die inside if they tore it down.


May 24th, 2010 at 1:15 AM ^

There have been rumors flying for the better part of two years now about this, and they probably date back longer than that. Face it, the Joe is not a great arena. It was built cheaply, and quickly, in order to keep the Wings from moving out to a place like Pontiac. And it is also in the way of further development along the riverfront with a potential (albeit unlikely at the moment) Cobo Hall expansion. And it isn't like the Wings leaving Olympia, or the Habs leaving the Forum. The Wings need a new building, or the Joe needs a major renovation (which is the other option, but highly unlikely).

As for locations, two have popped up quite frequently from what I've read. Foxtown seems the most logical, as Ilitch owns most of the land behind the Fox, and most of it is parking lots. There are obstacles, such as the old CC Bar, which is now Bookies, but they can be dealt with. The other is diagonally across I-75 from Comerica Park, which is currently a zone of parking lots for Tigers and Lions games. Ilitch has also bought property in this area recently.

Hope this helps somewhat. And by the way, can you provide a source to these rumors?


May 24th, 2010 at 1:23 AM ^

This sparked a flurry of speculation on another board last year, during which everyone was certain of a new arena being announced that summer. Here's what I know so far: Ilitch re-upped the lease for next year, and will continue to do so until they actually figure out what they are going to do. If necessary, they will move to the Palace and share with the Pistons until the new arena is complete. Otherwise, it's just pure speculation, and Ilitch has been quite vague about this throughout the process to my knowledge.

EDIT: Link to lease extension. http://detnews.com/article/20100506/BIZ/5060470/Ilitch--Red-Wings-seek-…


May 24th, 2010 at 1:28 AM ^

Do you know for a fact that they'll move to the Palace? Personally I don't see that happening. They'd have to build a seperate locker room, and going back and forth between a basketball court and ice rink is something that I don't think the Wings want to be part of. They'd also have to find a place to practice. It woudn't be to hard, but i just don't think they want to do that. This is just my opinion and  anything could happen. I also wouldn't mind that because it would make going to Wings games a lot closer.


May 24th, 2010 at 1:34 AM ^

Don't forget that the Detroit Vipers of the IHL used to play at the Palace, so it isn't out of the question of having a hockey team there for a bit. I can't find an article at the moment, but I recall that members of the team took a tour of the facilities there earlier this year and came away impressed with the building and what it had to offer. Anything is possible with this situation. My bet would be that they stay in the Joe as long as possible, and then move to the Palace if necessary if construction is still underway on what has been dubbed by some as Olympia 2. Basically, you could speculate on this topic as much as you want, but nothing is certain.


May 24th, 2010 at 1:53 AM ^

Yea I remember the Vipers playing there, but the only thing different is this is an NHL team. I'd love it if they went there for a season. I'd probably go to a few more games. It'll be intersting to see what exactly goes down. They need a new building, and its only a matter of time before it happens.

Robbie Moore

May 24th, 2010 at 10:34 AM ^

the Olympia.  When the Wings left there for JLA is was a genuinely sad day.  The Olympia was GREAT.  The balcony seats were cantalevered over a lower bowl and you were right on top of the action.  And the arena would shake, literally, when the crown got into it.  The energy was amazing.  In that regard the only places I've been that matched its energy was Jenison Fieldhouse in the Magic Johnson era and Yost today.  JLA had none of that.  Just a cheaply constructed bowl with no soul.  The one thing that JLA has is that the Wings won cups there, so we have great memories.  But that was because the team was great.  The arena was still second rate.

Section 1

May 24th, 2010 at 4:23 PM ^

Tearing down Joe Louis Arena is like "urban renewal."  It would be a Riverfront improvement.

Seriously, why would anybody think that plopping down a gigantic gray box on Detroit's riverfront was ever a good idea?

Olympia had 1000% more character and closeness to the rink and to the players than JLA.  (JLA always sounds to me like an airline whose plane just crashed.)  They can build something FAR better than JLA.

Moreover, metro Detroit has miles of open land to build a great hockey arena.  But there is precious little riverfront.  The riverfront should be parkland.  Good freaking riddance to Joe Louis Arena.  I'll press the plunger on the dynamite charges.


May 24th, 2010 at 1:18 AM ^

The'll eventually build a new arena. When is another question. It doesn't seem that Illitch wants to renovate the Joe, and he has bought many properties around Comerica Park. It will happen, but who knows when. And for the rumors about playing at the Palace in the mean time, I don't see that happening unless the Joe is collapsing. I don't see the city of Detroit playing hardball with the Wings with a year to year lease with them. That would be just tossing money away.

I really don't know about having a new one in 2012. They'll have to get the ball rolling real soon to make that happen.

the_big_house 500th

May 24th, 2010 at 1:25 AM ^

I regret to inform you guys that I don't hear much about Detroit news here in Columbus except if it involves buildings being torn down, GM and crime related issues. The Columbus Disgrace is the worst paper for any news really.

the_big_house 500th

May 24th, 2010 at 1:44 AM ^

app on my Ipod touch. When it comes to state news (locally) I really only concern myself about Ohio. I do try to keep up on Michigan news. I'd like to say it's not my problem but  with what is going on in the economy and nation today it seems every state's problem is another state's issue.

Super J

May 24th, 2010 at 1:57 AM ^

I respect the fact you listen to a news podcast.  Just remember 5 companies run all of the main stream news.  If you listen to one network listen to them all.  You will find the truth in there somewhere.  It is funny in todays age that TMZ is the most honest reporting on the planet.

Sorry you live in Ohio.  Unless you have a a kick ass job like king of Ohio.  And even then sorry you live in Ohio.

South Bend Wolverine

May 24th, 2010 at 1:48 AM ^

Wow.  Have you, um, ever BEEN there?  It's actually an awesome place to watch a hockey game, and would be even more awesome if they would tone down the canned music a little.  All the statues, banners, posters, etc. give it a great feeling of history & tradition.  Every time I go to the Joe, whether it's for a Wings game or for some College Hockey at the Joe action, I wonder why people want to get rid of it, not how soon it can be replaced.

South Bend Wolverine

May 24th, 2010 at 11:30 AM ^

Way too young to ever have gone to Olympia, but from what folks are saying around here, it sounds like it must have been a pretty awesome place, so I can see why folks who grew up with it would harbor a little resentment towards the Joe.  I, however, grew up with the Joe, and love it to death, because it's an objectively awesome place that houses an objectively awesome team.

Not exactly sure where you're going w/ the Yost/Munn comparison.  Which one is s'posed to be which?

Section 1

May 24th, 2010 at 4:30 PM ^

+1, bando.

NOBODY who went to a lot of games at both places would ever mention JLA in the same breath as Olympia.  Is there anybody on this board -- anybody who knew both the old Olympia and the new Joe, that is, and who can speak from experience -- who would not rather see the Wings play at the old Olympia if it were resurrected?  Granted, Olympia was in a neighborhood that was kind of dicey.  And yeah, things change, and it is time to move on from the old Stadiums that were home to the Original 6.  They are all gone now, every one of them.  Sadly.  (And, to Olympia's credit, I think that there is a case to be made that Olympia may have been the best of the six; better for hockey than Chicago Stadium, the old Boston Garden, Maple Leaf Garden, the old Madison Square Garden, and the old Montreal Forum.  For Olympia to have been the best of that lot was really saying something.)

But for anybody to be misty-eyed over JLA; I don't get it.   To me, it is like the Silverdome of hockey.

Monocle Smile

May 24th, 2010 at 3:10 AM ^

that make me wonder how you have amassed over 3000 MGoPoints, Bando. The Joe is classic and an excellent place to watch a hockey game...even the cheap nosebleed seats have a decent view. It sounds like you've just never been there. The place is ripe with Red Wings tradition even if Gordie Howe never played there. There's not a single thing I nor probably 80% of Detroiters don't like about it besides being sold out constantly.

Bando Calrissian

May 24th, 2010 at 9:40 AM ^

Ripe with Red Wings tradition does not compensate for the fact that it's your typical 1970's-1980's arena, mixed with the general futuristic-gone-wrong, post-apocalyptic architectural scheme that is the Civic Center area of Detroit.  Fits right in to the corrugated tubes and elevated walkways and parking structures and Cobo.   Nice sight lines?  Sure.  But let's not sit here and pretend that the Joe is some marvelous facility for hockey teeming with character.  It's a dump that happened to have a bunch of great hockey teams play there in the last half of its run.  Classic hockey venues are the Boston Garden, the Montreal Forum, Yost, Maple Leaf Gardens, Chicago Stadium, Olympia, Ralph Engelstad.  Not the Joe, nice sight lines and all.

Point being, it's not blasphemous to tear it down.  Because if there was a facility there worth arguing for aside from the fact that the Red Wings have been successful there for about 15 years, you'd have something worth fighting for.  The Red Wings can and will do better to build themselves a new facility rather than cling to the Joe for another 10 to 15 years, at which point it's going to look even more dated than it is, and still not in a way that's worth saving.


May 24th, 2010 at 3:20 PM ^

I'm guessing that this is partly a generational thing.  People old enough to remember Olympia pretty much universally think the Joe is a comedown from that, and aren't attached to it.  For younger fans, it's the only Detroit hockey arena they've known, so it's more special to them. 

Personally, I'm not old enough to remember Olympia, but as a building, the Joe doesn't do that much for me.  It's a 'tweener - not old enough to give you that sense of history that you got at a place like Tiger Stadium, and not new enough to give you that sense that you are getting the state-of-the-art experience (which the Palace still does).  It's a typical 1970s building.  30 years of hockey memories give it some cachet, but I don't see it as irreplaceable.


May 24th, 2010 at 8:51 PM ^

The Joe may be one of the oldest and ugliest buildings in the league, but to say it is soulless is blasphemy. We have watched them come up from the Dead(Things) to become a powerhouse in the building. 4 Stanley Cups and how many playoff appearances? I'll be sad when the Joe is gone because the Wings will just get a brand new arena that is just like everyone else's, where luxury boxes dominate.


May 24th, 2010 at 6:42 AM ^

The Joe is a great place to sit in your seat and watch a hockey game.  Terrific upper deck sightlines especially, since there aren't any boxes between the levels.  Plus it's got a great name.

That said, it is a dump.  It's hideously ugly, it wasn't well-constructed, it smells bad, there aren't enough bathrooms, and from an urban planning perspective the only worse place you could find for an arena is the middle of a cornfield in Iosco County.  Its situated so that you basically have no choice but to spend astronomical amounts of money on parking.  The moment you leave your seat you are having one of the worst arena experiences in the country.  And it's in the way of a desperately needed expansion of Cobo Hall.

I would miss a few things about the Joe, but it's the hockey equivalent of Veterans Stadium in Philly.  And it just turned 30 years old, its not exactly an ancient shrine.  Anyone who thinks it's "blasphemy" to tear it down is exposing themselves as no more than 16 years old.

Wolverine In Exile

May 24th, 2010 at 8:19 AM ^

Take this for what you will-- source is a Olympia exec who patronizes my father's business (no, it's not a strip club):

Illitch holdings has enough land in two locations (behind Fox Theatre & across I-75 from Comerica) to build a new hockey arena. Denise Illitch (Mike's daughter and probable leader of Illitch: TNG) has been negotiating with multiple banks to get financing setup for a new arena, but with the down economy affecting banks significantly, they can't get the financing in place just yet. City of Detroit has no financial leverage with which to assist due to their quasi-bankruptcy status. There was a thought about tearing down JLA and building a new arena there on the riverfront since all teh infrastructure is already in place to support (parking, illitch owned facilities, peoplemover station, etc), with the Wings playing at The Palace for a year, but that was before Bill Davidson's death. Since then, the freeze between the two families has been re-established, Palace Sports & Entertainment has basically fired all their senior staff (Tom Wilson, senior marketing staff) to make the PS&E entity as attractive as possible to potential buyers. Some of the old PS&E guys have been hired by Olympia, but this is not a sign that Illitch is going to buy the Pistons (Illitch doesn't have the cash, they're focusing on paying off Comerica as fast as possible so that it will be free & clear should the Old Man pass on in the near term)-- rather just a grabbing of good business people. This precludes any of the rumors that the Wings would move to the Palace for a season. The Old Man had also been keeping signifcant cash on the sidelines ready to assist WCF, Jr in case Ford really went down the tubes and the city was in danger of losing the Lions. Now that Ford seems to have stabilized (and hence the Ford Family finances have stabilized), that cash may be turned to other endeavors... at least that's the line Denise is pushing with both parents.


Basically, they're (Illitch's) in a holding pattern. Olympia is waiting for either the City of Detroit to get right or implode (which at that time would present some opportunities for getting a lot more assets for Olympia & Illitch Holdings on the cheap)-- the City's #1 building/renovation concern is Cobo Hall. While Illitch's wants a new arena to be done before the Old Man dies, the reality is that without significant external assistance right now, they don't have the cash to pull it off, and most of the younger family is content to keep the family cash heavy right now with Little Cesears, the Tigers and the Wings profitable. Expect to keep seeing 1 yr extensions of the lease at the JLA for at least 1-3 years. It's possible that if the balance sheets stay positive, my source thinks that the Old Man may push for an almost 100% cash financing of a new arena in 2012-13, basically bankrolling it with his own money just to get it done. Also, the Old Man has made trips the past 2 years visitng a lot of newer arenas to get ideas. Illitch's favorites (per my source-- and don't read too much into the size, it's more aesthetics / construction style / interior feel): Nationwide in Columbus, XCel in Minnesota, & RALPH ENGLESTAD IN NORTH DAKOTA (apparently Illitch called this "an absolute hockey palace" on his visit).


May 24th, 2010 at 1:42 PM ^

You mentioned Tom Wilson leaving PS&E and Olympia Ent. hiring former PS&E employees, but you did not explcitly connect the dots that Wilson left PS&E and went to Ilitch/Olympia, which is a pretty big deal. He was instrumental in building the wildly successful Palace, so many people have been reading the writing on the wall that the move would bring about a new venue for the Wings sooner rather than later.

Also, came across this article from Friday stating that 1) the Wings plan to renew the lease at JLA (someone already mentioned that) and 2) sharing the Palace isn't off the table, though obviously the Palace people are going to say that.

Wolverine In Exile

May 24th, 2010 at 2:25 PM ^

meant to say explicitly that Wilson was hired by Olympia, but for some reason didn't type it. Good point too... while the Illitch empire has built a stadium from scratch since they bought the  Red Wings (Comerica park), the guy who was the project manager for that if you remeber was John McHale Jr, who left the organization a number of years ago. So while a lot of the senior management is still in place at Olympia / Illitch Holdings from that time period, the one guy who supervised the stadium construction project (McHale) is gone, so Wilson may have been brought on board to get Olympia / Illitch Holdings ready to do another stadium construction project. With the way that Wilson supervised  both the building of The Palace and it's ongoing modernization projects to keep it relevent as a major sports venue, I would feel confident if I was Illitch that I have a good team in place to get the new hockey arena deal done and planning for construction underway.


May 24th, 2010 at 9:22 AM ^

would love to see the Wings in a brand new, modern hockey mecca. One that makes it as enjoyable to play in as to watch from. Not that I hate the Joe, I don't, but it's time has passed for the prestige the Wings bring every day.

As Tiger Stadium passed, so will the Joe. Tiger Stadium was 100+ years old but the Joe seems that old already.

st barth

May 24th, 2010 at 10:36 AM ^

This is just my personal speculation but the ownership status of the Pistons might be the wild card in the discussion of where the Wings (& Pistons) end up settling down next.

It's well known that the Wings & Pistons ownerships haven't gotten along very well but with Bill Davidson's passing and the Pistons potentially on the market that could change.  New Pistons ownership might get along much better with the Illitch's (and I doubt Illitch would buy the Pistons for  whatever that's worth).  

Now keep in mind that metro Detroit is already pretty unusual in having separate arenas for hockey & basketball.  Even in large & wealthy NYC the Rangers & Knicks share MSG.

Joe Louis is a dump and needs to go.  But I suspect that the Wings will hold tight for the moment renewing 1 year leases for another couple of years.  In the meantime, new ownership emerges with the Pistons.  With that settled, (probably in next 2-3 years), I could easily see the Wings headed up to Auburn Hills for a while (admit it, the Palace is far superior to the Joe with more seats and much more premium seating options.)

Now with that arrangement, both ownership groups would have some time to smooth out their relationship and should be ready to build a new joint facility back downtown.  Keep in mind that the Palace is already 20 years old but top end sports facilities seem to age in dog years and 30 years old is ancient by contemporary standards.

Bottom line, I think that within about the next 10 years we'll see both Wings & Pistons back downtown in shared facility with the caveat that it all depends on next move in Pistons ownership.  If the Pistons don't line up properly, however, probably Illitch just goes ahead with own arena in the next 5 years.


May 24th, 2010 at 3:26 PM ^

I don't know if the Pistons will abandon the Palace any time soon.  The Palace was the arena that broke the mold, with 180 luxury suites (far more than any arena had ever contained).  It caused the Pistons' revenues to skyrocket and made every arena built before it obsolete, which is why so many have been built since then.  Even now, 22 years after its construction, it remains essentially the prototypical NBA/NHL arena.  And given that the Davidson family owns it along with the Pistons (and will probably sell the two together), you couldn't get a better leasing situation than that.  I think the Pistons are going to be there awhile.

st barth

May 24th, 2010 at 6:16 PM ^

...but it is also now the third oldest arena in the NBA.  A quick google search of "nba arena rankings" reveals that it now ranks in the lower half of NBA arenas.  For example:

- thesportsroadtrip.com ranked the Palace #22 in the NBA: 


- the ocregister.com ranked it #29


- mikelindahl.com ranked it #21


Not that those lists are scientific or exhaustive, but I think they do add some perspective.  Also, I thought that I had read somewhere once that the Pistons were on something like a 30 year plan with the Palace but my google digging didn't turn anything up on that.

I did find this article in Crains Detroit though which seems to suggest that I'm far from the only one thinking that the the Pistons & Wings will end up in the same building:



May 24th, 2010 at 7:23 PM ^

The big knock on the Palace obviously is its location, and I completely agree with that.  But still . . . 22,000 seats (largest capacity in the league), over 180 suites (they added a few more after 2004; I forget the exact number) and a sweetheart lease agreement make it an absolute cash cow.  I don't see how they could do better, revenue-wise.  If they move I think it would be partly out of political pressure to come back to Detroit. 


May 24th, 2010 at 5:46 PM ^

I never saw a game in Olympia (too young, like many others on this board), and I didn't think it was a bad arena to watch a game in, but when you look at luxury boxes and creature comforts, it's pretty behind the times (and I thought that 10 years ago which was the last time I was there), and I'm not sure how much you can shoe-horn in there.

Also, building a new hockey arena near Comerica and Ford Field would then allow for the expansion of Cobo (if the city/country/whomever else get's their act together) so they don't lose the auto show (and can get some bigger conventions).


Section 1

May 24th, 2010 at 6:37 PM ^


I was being facetious in suggesting that the Wings actually go back to a rebuilt Olympia.  Nothing of the kind will ever happen nor should it.  None of the other Original Six would, either.  The old arenas are all gone.

Your point is the right one; not only could a new, better arena be built, away form the river, but the Joe Louis area could be much better used as park, residential, and room for an expanded Cobo Center.  Those kinds of plans make JLA look insignificant by comparison.  That whole area is really an architectural mess; a nightmare.  It reminds me of the movie "Brazil."


May 24th, 2010 at 6:47 PM ^

If the JLA land were used as parkland it would be a total disaster.  That parcel is surrounded by a fenced-in apartment complex, a freeway, a convention center, and the river.  Nobody would ever go there and it'd be like the NYSE of drug dealing.  You could step from needle to needle all the way across.  The police resources that place would suck up would be such a waste.  Unless you reconfigure the streets and freeway in the area - unfeasible - the land is good for one thing only: more Cobo.

Section 1

May 24th, 2010 at 7:05 PM ^

as is.

If not, a major renewal plan could link up a riverfront park and walkway from Riverfront Apartments, to Hart Plaza, to the riverwalk on the water side of the Ren Cen, and on up, perhaps all the way to Chene Park and beyond that to Bell Isle.  (It would involve the substantial demolition of most of the existing Cobo Hall and Arena, which is a giant shit-hole no matter what.  (Actually, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said that the best arena in the NBA in his day was Cobo Arena; the funkiest music, the coolest fans, etc.  But we know the Pistons aren't going back there.  Anybody know what Cobo Arena gets used for these days?  Anything?)

That kind of grand riverfront plan might not be so hard if people would give up on the notion of building casinos and crap like JLA on the riverfront, and instead start with a grand public space like Chigago's lakefront.


May 24th, 2010 at 9:09 PM ^

Cobo Arena has absolutely got to go, but in order to connect the JLA tract with Hart Plaza, a whole bunch of other shit would have to go too, including a UAW building and a massive chunk of Cobo Hall itself.  As it stands there's only a thin sliver of land between Cobo Hall and the river, which isn't going to attract anybody to the park on the other side.  Parks aren't destinations, they have to be in the middle of things and on the way to things.  Nobody's going to go hang out at the park on the other side of Cobo.

To make that land usable, basically you'd have to tear down Cobo entirely and build a new convention center.  Detroit doesn't have the money for that, and it's not necessarily wise.  Cobo has a lot of advantages, including quality transportation links and proximity to hotels.

The ideal plan for that area is to tear down both arenas and expand Cobo Hall into every inch of usable space left behind.  Rejiggering the path of the People Mover also wouldn't hurt.  Wouldn't mind getting rid of the UAW building, either, it's awkward as hell.