New Arena in the Works?
I had skepticized about it in my “Offseason Stories,” but I had predicted that we would not be hearing any news about a new downtown arena for the Red Wings. However, today, before the offseason has even begun, sources told the Sports Business Journal. Mike Ilitch and the Red Wings have long been saying that they need a new arena, but attempts to squeeze out what little juice is left in the Joe are apparently nearing their end.
Sources said that the Wings intend to develop an 18,000-seat facility. I am not really sure why the number is so low (at least compared to the Joe’s capacity of 20,066). I understand that there are often many seats empty in the lower bowls of the Joe, but that is mostly due in part to the lack of luxury boxes, forcing executives to buy those seats that don’t always (hardly never) get used. Before the recession hit Detroit, tickets to the Joe were hard to come by. When Detroit “comes back,” I just don’t see it being any easier to get seats in an arena that holds even fewer people.
According to the report, the Wings have hired the architecture firms HKS and NBBJ to design a new facility. Neither firms have any history in Detroit, but they have a trail of successful arenas to their names. HKS, from Dallas, is the firm behind Cowboys Stadium, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, American Airlines Center (where the Stars play), Lucas Oil Stadium, U.S. Cellular Field, and Liverpool Football Club’s Stanley Park. NBBJ is behind Paul Brown Stadium, Safeco Field, Staples Center, Lincoln Financial Field, and Nationwide Arena. The firms both worked on the Milwaukee Brewers’ Miller Park.
While the fact that firms have been asked to design a new arena are promising, there are still many questions left to be answered. For one, where will the new arena be located? You can’t break ground on an arena that doesn’t have a location. Two areas, the land north of I75 across from Ford Field and Comerica Park, as well as the Foxtown District, have been deciphered as the two frontrunners. Another roadblock is funding. A brand new arena just doesn’t come in a DIY kit that a couple of kids can put together. It is a hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars project, of which the Detroit City Council wants no part of at the current time (while they drive around in Escalades).
Nothing is a done deal yet. But rest assured that once the latest information becomes available, you’ll see it right here on The Checking Line. Bookmark us by holding down [Ctrl]+[D].
Justin Doddie (@93JustinD)