Since I was at tonight’s game in Columbus and won’t make it back home to check out replays, I decided not to do a game recap just yet (if at all) and just to a comparison of the Nationwide Arena in-game experience to that of Joe Louis Arena.
The fact that Nationwide Arena is 20 years newer than the Joe is hard to miss. It still has a cleanliness that has long left JLA. The main concourse may actually be narrower than that at Joe Louis but they have at least four concourses to spread out the traffic. While the Joe has one for the “normal people” in the main bowl and one for the suites, Nationwide has one for the lower bowl, one for the club seats, one for the lower suites, and one for the upper bowl. There could be more above it, I don’t know.
Before the game they run an actual pre-game show on the scoreboard. It recaps Columbus’ last game, their opponent’s last game, yesterday around the NHL, and gives a preview of the coming game. Detroit doesn’t even try this. How hard would it be?
Exiting the arena after the game is much easier because there are doors specifically reserved for exiting. They’re not open before the game so they’re not a security concern but they are opened afterwards so when you have 20,000 all trying to leave, they’re not being channelled to two sets of doors.
There are at least five restaurants within a two-minute walk from the Arena. Those are just the ones I counted between there and my hotel during a pre-game walk. Nothing is within two minutes of Joe Louis Arena.
Now, I’ll argue forever that none of this is required. I love the Joe because it’s a great place to watch hockey. That’s all it’s good for, though. Casual fans want more. Casual fans want food. Casual fans want to be able to get in and out. How would it hurt the hockey-watching experience to have more doors in the next Detroit arena? How would it hurt to have more concourses?
If the Wings are trying to attract casual fans now, that pre-game show must be implemented immediately. It’s a brilliant idea to get the fans who haven’t been watching every game up to speed on what to expect in the game they’re about to watch. But the Wings will never do it because it takes effort, the same reason why the Steve Yzerman jersey retirement ceremony wasn’t released on DVD.
Just some thoughts from here in Columbus. More on the game later.