Red Wings at the Little Caesars Arena: Is it better than the Joe?

Nolan Weatherby, Contributing Writer

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A hockey game can be a tradition for many loyal fans. Each arena has its own history, created from the many emotional wins and humiliating losses.

In downtown Detroit, one stadium became legendary after the “Dead Wings” became a winning franchise again. The Joe Louis Arena, built in 1979, was host to Steve Yzerman, The Russian Five, Niklas Lidstrom, and Henrik Zetterberg who all brought the Stanley Cup back to a fanbase that hadn’t seen a championship win for over 40 years.

Sadly, construction began in 2014 for a new arena, one that would be named after a food chain that the Red Wings owner also owned. Little Caesars was opened to the public in 2017, so here’s what you can expect from the arena if you’ve never been.

The biggest difference between the Joe and Little Caesars Arena is the amount of sports played under the jumbo screens. Both the Red Wings and the Pistons take turns using the arena as their seasons overlap most of the fall and winter. They change out the ice rink for a basketball court between each game, but the Red Wings have an underground practice rink below the main floor that allows them to practice at the same time as the Pistons, so it works out. Surrounding the entrances to the seats of the arena is a concourse filled with multiple concession areas and restaurants, just like any other arena.

But, what makes the arena so special are the many statues, paintings, and display cases that show the history of the two sports franchises. A huge 50-foot mural of Gordie Howe, Mr. Hockey himself, is right next to the main entrance so he can be seen by all. Bronze statues of the Production Line, the Hockey line that included Howe, Ted Lindsay, and Alex Delvecchio, are placed on each corner of the concourse and they draw in most fans for pictures and places to think about the founders of the Red Wings from way back in the day. Under each escalator leading to the upper bowl seats are display cases with memorable uniforms, basketballs, and hockey sticks that were used by a player who was apart of a Stanley Cup or Larry O’Brien Trophy win. This was the coolest aspect of the arena, just like what I used to see at the Joe Louis.

In the arena itself, the steps are huge and the rink is very low compared to the seats. For those of you who’ve been to the Joe, this is a welcome sight to the hundreds or short steps you had to climb every game. These new steps makes for a very crisp sound system, as the speakers in the arena have heavy bass and this bounces easily off of the large steps. From the rafters, as always, are the retired jersey numbers of both the Red Wings and Pistons, with their championship banners on the opposite side. What’s really cool is that I couldn’t find them at first, but  they emerged from the ceiling as a pregame video was played on the jumbo screens. That was so unexpected, and made me extremely pumped to watch my first game here.

It’s not the Joe Louis Arena, but it’s just as grand. Remodeled, up-to-date, and full of history, Little Caesars Arena has put in the work to show fans from Motor City that they care about more than just the game. It’s a tradition built upon the shoulders of the greats, and I would most definitely go to see a game any time because it’s worth it. After all, it’s the memories we make that keep life going, and a sports event with the ones you care for is the best way to make this happen.