OT: Red Wings Arena District plans unveiled

Submitted by soupsnake on July 20th, 2014 at 10:38 AM

Plans have been published for the new Arena District. Lots of interesting stuff included. Crains Detroit has a series of 6 articles. You can check them out here




Deconstructed design: Most arenas are built as a big box with the playing surface and seating ringed by concourses, concession stands, team offices and restaurants. But the new arena will be “deconstructed” with the outer-ring functions moved into structures just set off or pulled away from the core inner playing surface and seats. They won’t be separate buildings, but linked by a first-ever interior streetscape.



Glass covered streetscape: The area between the seating bowl and the outer buildings will be covered by glass to create a “covered via,” or interior streetscape, filled with trees, retail, dining and other amenities. Bridges and walkways will connect the outer buildings to the seating bowl through this covered interior street.



Lighted roof design: The roof of the arena will be fashioned with the most modern programmable lighting so that different images can be produced for a given event. In the rendering provided by Olympia Development, the roof shows the Red Wings logo as it will on hockey nights. But the roof could be green for St. Patrick’s Day or something else for a concert by Kid Rock or Eminem, Ilitch said. He described the desired effect as “classy, not gaudy.”



Playing surface: The playing surface will be set about 32 feet below ground level to lower the profile of the building, producing a more human-scale environment in the district where most buildings will rise just two to four stories. That follows the practice at Comerica Park and Ford Field, where the playing surfaces were set below ground level.


A DRAMATIC TRANSFORMATION OF THE HEART OF DETROIT will begin in September, when the Ilitch family breaks ground on the construction of a $450 million Detroit Red Wings arena concurrently with another $200 million in apartments, restaurants, office buildings, parks and shops over 45 blocks. This is the city’s entertainment district, super-sized.


This could be huge for Detroit and it seems like the Illitches are really committed to seeing the full plan happen. Chris Illitch even went so far as to commit to spening "10's of millions" beyond what they had already guranteed.




July 20th, 2014 at 10:58 AM ^

I've lived in the downtown district for 9 years. This is game changing alone, but when you combine it with everything Gilbert and others are doing it gets very hard to quantify how huge this is for Detroit. Simply amazing. The implications for attracting middle class folks to Detroit is pivotal to Detroit's resurgence.


July 20th, 2014 at 11:56 AM ^

Except, there's big time incentive for the Ilitchs' and the city for this plan to work. This has been in the works for over 20 years. It will enhance development connecting midtown to downtown and with the M-1 rail/Gilbert-ville being associated you can bet the city will benefit. The arena alone, will give the city between 100-150(possibly more in the future if the Pistons come) events annually they can capture income tax money  on.  

Or maybe we should just let the area keep looking like this: http://www.mlive.com/business/detroit/index.ssf/2014/04/olympia_picks_general_contract.html


July 20th, 2014 at 2:40 PM ^

What are these mysterious events you mention? Dog shows? Autorama?  Iggy Azalea concerts?

Detroit  has seen the construction of Ford Field and Comerica in the past 15 years yet downtown is still deader than a graveyard on a moon lit night. I very much doubt that a smaller arena than either of those two stadiums will change anything.

Detroit has been hosting events for decades. Decades in which she has collapsed into a state not unlike Stalingrad circa 1943.


July 20th, 2014 at 4:01 PM ^

The Joe currently hosts 70 events annually and it's obsolete. With Olympia controlling all parking and concession sales at the new arena, they'll be able to land basically any event they want.(Palace will be hurt the most from this) All the concerts, rodeos, ice shows, college hockey/basketball etc... Remember, Tom Wilson is running the show and the Palace was designed largely around his input. He's got plenty of experience in getting an arena built to maximize profits.

snarling wolverine

July 20th, 2014 at 4:42 PM ^

150 events isn't realistic.  100 might be.  The Palace is still a very functional facility for concerts and other events; there's not a ton of room to improve on it.  The two venues will duke it out for big events.  The Palace will have fewer but still get a lot, especially given that it's been the premier venue for a generation now and promoters are used to dealing with it.






July 20th, 2014 at 6:11 PM ^

That's a slight over statement, but given the water situation, not as much as it should be.

And THAT's the thing public money should be being spent on.  Because if you want to attract people back to Detroit, the very first step is "don't have national stories about a large subset of the city not having running fucking water."


July 20th, 2014 at 11:18 AM ^

... The only way you can get middle class families to head back downtown would be to fix the schools and/or provide other educational options. If someone can fix that issue then a true resurgence is possible. I know few middle class families that live around town but I do know some middle class couples. If you want families you need more than arenas and trendy shops. Need tangible change. These are steps in the right direction but as we all know there is much more to be done.


July 20th, 2014 at 1:28 PM ^

Young middle classers like me are already moving to the city. We don't have kids yet so schools don't impact us now. Of course, that will change soon for many of us. But there's a steady pipeline of young folks from area universities coming in. There are also a lot of empty nesters who live downtown and midtown, too. So there's already a pipeline, but downtown and midtown are at 99% occupancy so we need more inventory. Not to mention there's also talk of Cranbrook putting a satellite school downtown.


July 20th, 2014 at 10:28 PM ^

I have always considered a move myself. I guess my point is that if you want sustained growth and a true revitalization, at some point you will need families. Bachelors and young people certainly are moving in along with young couples. The issue is those same people leave as soon as things get serious and they begin a family. Just not enough available from an education standpoint at the moment to justify staying.

Vengeful Barbarian

July 21st, 2014 at 12:18 PM ^

Downtown areas are not designed for families anyway, the whole point is that there is nightlife and restaurants that attract young single people with money to burn. These developers don't want families, because once people have kids their priorities change, and the bar/ nightlife money ends up being spent on childcare and childcare accessories. They also want to live somewhere where there aren't drunk people making noise late at night on Wednesday, or any other fucking day, stay off my lawn!

NOLA Wolverine

July 20th, 2014 at 11:57 AM ^

I think as far as getting people to LIVE in Detroit, both Gilbert's and Illitch's actions should bring in a lot of young people. As others have mentioned, Detroit has to fix a lot of the essentials (schools, services, street lights, etc.) before a good amount of middle class adults will seriously consider Detroit. 

EDIT: That article's title is awesome. 

snarling wolverine

July 20th, 2014 at 4:46 PM ^

People shouldn't get too pie-in-the-sky here.  Chicago has lots of young adults living downtown, but its public schools aren't much more successful than Detroit's.  Famllies there generally move to the suburbs once they've had kids (unless they can afford private school).  Even a thriving downtown doesn't guarantee that your city won't be dysfunctional in many other ways.   The South side of Chicago looks just like Detroit. 

Still, to get to a situation where only part of the city is run-down, and the other part is actually highly liveable (schools aside), would be moving forward.





July 20th, 2014 at 11:10 AM ^

Love the open plazas in there. Hopefully something similar to Kansas city's power and light district.

Amazing looking and I can't wait to see it get started.


July 20th, 2014 at 11:24 AM ^

The concepts look great and I really think that this could do at least some small wonders for a part of the near-downtown area north of I-75 that could use a little sprucing up. That area between Cass and Woodward north of the freeway is pretty underutilized. I also like that they are going to take on Cass Park and make it the anchor for the area. I wonder if this will bring a little more business to the Masonic too. 

All in all, this is great news for the area. Not sure how many people it would actually attract to live in the city, but it certainly doesn't hurt their prospects for at least slowing a decades-long trend. 

Lucky Socks

July 20th, 2014 at 11:29 AM ^

This all looks and sounds fantastic.  I live in Grand Rapids, and sometimes it takes massive personal investment to turn a city around (Ilitch-Gilbert = DeVos-VanAndel?).  I think this will make a huge difference with the city: perception and hip-factor will definitely improve.  But I do agree that public schools are the limiting reagent if Detroit wants to sustain growth and attract families.  Having said that, this seems a great step in the right direction and hopefully the infrastructure (schools and what not) will follow as the city continues to "fix" itself.  




July 21st, 2014 at 5:42 AM ^

To see Detroit, or even just one big part of it, like downtown Grand Rapids would be fantastic. I was in downtown GR this past weekend for a private event at the Van Andel, and was struck by how active that area is at night. It's a beautiful spot, and there were lots of people there to enjoy it. I told my brother, who's a Florida resident, how nice it would be to see Detroit like this. He replied, “Hell, Tampa isn't like this! If there's no hockey game, downtown closes at 5 pm.”

Bando Calrissian

July 20th, 2014 at 11:37 AM ^

Not sure I'm a fan of the arena design itself, but the districts surrounding it seem promising enough.

I do worry about the unintended consequences of gentrification here, though. A lot of folks and businesses are going to be shoved out by rising costs and rent, property speculation, etc. It's already started happening. There's no way to avoid it, of course, but it's still unfortunate.


July 20th, 2014 at 1:14 PM ^

But I don't know enough about the projects to know whether I'm just being paranoid.

The more present danger to my mind is that they could end up unable to find tenants for much of what they build, and you'll just have a nice-looking but largely uninhabited downtown with a lot of half-finished or never-started projects.


July 21st, 2014 at 12:07 AM ^

Gentrification is always an issue in development, but I think people who throw the word around in the context of Detroit don't understand really what it means and why it can be harmful. Detroit has no shortage of available real estate. A premise of destructive gentrification is a scarcity of affordable real estate (commercial, retail or residential). As of now, Detroit doesn't have that problem (obviously). I wouldn't worry about gentrification. There's plenty of cheap places to rent.


July 20th, 2014 at 11:40 AM ^

There's no way this isn't good for the city. Joe Louis is hopelessly outdated, and that's a prime location for different development when they tear it down.


July 20th, 2014 at 11:50 AM ^

I am very happy with this. Initially I heard some talk about going to something like the old Olympia and I am very happy that didn't happen. 3 years is pretty ambitious for the whole thing because that is great deal of infill but I like Illitch's commitment. I also love those atriums and if those are suspended seats behind the banners then that is really amazing:


July 20th, 2014 at 12:28 PM ^

Let's see you invest in it then. You can do whatever you want in any number of areas.

Edit: You're not wrong, there are many more important areas that need attending to besides an arena. But there's no reason to complain about a massive development that will help spur an area that's been deslolate since at least the 1980s.


July 20th, 2014 at 12:59 PM ^

This project is more than  building a new arena. If it was just a new arena, it would have never been approved. It all started with Gilbert and Ilitch but because of them more resedential real estate investors are flocking into the city. This will be a 3-5 year plan. I remember when the original plans were put out, thinking the plans were a "drop in the bucket" and a good "first step" (an arena, an office building, maybe a couple parking garages, a few rehabs of some old buldings around the arena). Instead, it seems like they took the 45 blocks and came up with plans to improve each of them. I don't see how anyone can be unhappy.


July 20th, 2014 at 12:41 PM ^

I hope I am alive for the day when I can take a train from A2 to a Red Wings game (in Detroit).

The Joe is old, ugly, uncomfortable and doesn't take advantage of its prime location (no views from inside, poorly planned parking, obstructs what would be a nice river view).

As long as there are fireworks, count me in ; )