Thoughts On the Red Wings’ New Arena Plans


The Ilitch family made a splash earlier today when they revealed the plans for their “mixed-use sports and entertainment district,” centered around a $650 million new arena for the Red Wings.

Many headlines will run (including this one) focusing on the arena but the actual information released doesn’t. The drawings are concepts, actual designs aren’t completed, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know more today than we did yesterday.

The arena’s footprint will be on the block bounded by Sproat St., Clifford St., Henry St., and Woodward Ave. This is one block south of an early projection that put it at the corner of Temple St. and Woodward. This gives roughly the same amount of space for the structure as Columbus’ Nationwide Arena, also designed by in-part by 360 Architecture.

The fact that 360 will be doing the design is a new development, as previously it was assigned to HKS and NBBJ. NBBJ is who 360 (then Heinlein Schrock Sterns) partnered with on Nationwide and HKS had done Dallas’ American Airlines Center, so I had been excited about that. It looks like 360 was in charge of integrating the arena into the surrounding neighborhood in Columbus, though, and that’s what they’re going for in Detroit.

To that extent, the arena will only stand about three stories, with the ice surface sitting over thirty feet below street level, so that the structure won’t dwarf the surrounding buildings. Those buildings will be integrated into the arena structure such that restaurants inside them can be open to the public when the arena isn’t hosting an event or be a part of the concourse on game nights.

That concourse will feature a glass ceiling, while the roof of the arena bowl proper will be covered in LED lights which can be used to display artwork (the example concept art showed the Red Wings’ logo).

The previously-announced capacity of 18,500 has been bumped up to around 20,000. Joe Louis Arena’s capacity is 20,066.

Naming rights to the arena have yet to be sold but it’s a good bet Ilitch won’t pass up the revenue it would generate. As such, don’t look for a Little Caesar’s Coliseum as that would just be Ilitch paying himself. More likely is another Detroit-based company. I’d suggested Quicken Loans but they have the naming rights to Cleveland’s arena, though two arenas with the same sponsor isn’t unheard of (the aforementioned American Airlines Center in Dallas and Miami’s American Airlines Arena, for example).

The arena is expected to open in 2017.

What do we not have at this point?

There’s no finalized design for the arena. As such, there’s no finalized capacity.

Parking options have yet to be determined, though it looks like at least some of that may be south of I-75. With that, the link between the north and south sides of the highway still doesn’t have a design.

So basically we’re seeing a lot of ideas at this point but nothing more. That’s to be expected, it’s early in the process.

Clark founded the site that would become DetroitHockey.Net in September of 1996. He continues to write for the site and executes the site's design and development, as well as that of DH.N's sibling site,

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