Detroit is now officially home to a new multi-purpose arena, the Little Caesars Arena. The arena officially opened on September 5 and will be the center for the new sports and entertainment district in downtown Detroit. This district will include neighborhoods with both residential and retail properties around Ford Field, Comerica Park, and the Cass Corridor. Eight stories tall and built as a bowl with its floor 40 ft. below street level, the arena contains seating capacity at 20,000 for hockey and 21,000 for basketball. There is also a “gondola” seating level suspended above the stands. Unique features include a roof that serves as a concourse to the surrounding retail outlets, box office, and offices of the Red Wings, and the largest center-hung scoreboard in the world (5,100 sq. ft.).
This will be the first time since 1974 that all four major sports teams played in the city limits on a consistent basis. This will also be the first time since 1978 that the Pistons will call the city of Detroit home.
The creation of the Little Caesars Arena was not without controversy, including the budget ($450 million was the first budget announced, with an additional $200 million for constructing the new district, bringing the final cost to $650 million. Earlier this year, the cost was estimated to be almost $863 million), construction (the tearing down of the Park Avenue Hotel and the rumors of the promise of 51% of construction jobs being filled by Detroit residents not being fulfilled), the teams playing there (rumors regarding the Pistons not getting approval for the move), and the name itself. For such a large-scale endeavor that changes so much, controversy is almost to be expected.
The arena is also expected to be a state of the art music venue. There are already many exciting concerts planned for the rest of the year, including Paul McCartney, Jay-Z, The Eagles, Janet Jackson, Ed Sheeran, Andrea Bocelli, Guns N’ Roses, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
The first Red Wings game will be a preseason game on September 23, while the first regular season game will be on October 5. The first Pistons game will be a preseason game on October 4, while the first regular season game will be on October 18. The arena will also host college basketball and hockey games, along with mixed martial arts and wrestling events.
I am excited to see the long-term effect of the new sports district on the city of Detroit. The arena and sports district will have a direct effect on property values and the real estate market in downtown Detroit due to the creation of new residential and apartment units, restaurants, retail outlets, and updated surrounding areas and public infrastructure. The goal is to connect neighborhoods and the areas occupied by Ford Field and Comerica Park. The announcement and ensuing plans had such an effect on the surrounding areas that I can’t imagine what will happen in the future. For now, I am excited to seethe Wings and Pistons play in their new home, and looking forward to seeing how this all changes our great city.
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