Joe Louis Arena has a capacity of 20,027, and extended its consecutive sellout streak for the Red Wings to over 200 games during the start of the 2015-2016 season. While the arena lacks some of the creature comforts that can be seen in many other modern arenas across the league, and is cramped at times, Joe Louis Arena still has a lot of charm, and is well worth the visit for hockey fans.
In 2012, the Detroit Red Wings first announced plans for a new venue to replace Joe Louis Arena, which they have called home since 1979. Just before the 2014 NHL season got underway, ground was broken on the new arena with completion scheduled for 2017. This allowed the City of Detroit, which owns JLA, to sell off the riverside area in which the old barn sits as part of a bankruptcy agreement. It was soon announced that the Joe would be demolished as part of a revitalization project that should see the Motor City begin to reclaim much of its lost glory. So if you want to see Joe Louis Arena, you should start making plans as you have only a limited time before the JLA is no more.
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You will find all your typical arena fare here, with little out of the ordinary. The good thing is that prices are still relatively reasonable for a Big 4 venue.
Should you prefer something cheaper, you will find both national chains such as Tim Hortons and Buffalo Wild Wings and local establishments like Cheli's Chili Bar along the single concourse. Hot dogs are $4.25, Polish sausage is $4.75, and nachos are $4.75, to mention a few of the possibilities. Of course, Little Caesar's pizza is also available, at $15 for a whole pie, a good deal if you are sharing with a friend. A slice is only $4, not unreasonable for a pro sports arena these days.
Try some Red Hot Wings, with easy to eat boneless options available in various sizes (costing $7.75-$10.50).
Beer is plentiful, with a number of local specialty brews particularly tempting. Twelve ounce craft bottles are $8, and 20-ounce micro drafts are $10. Familiar macro breweries like Budweiser are offered in 24 oz. cans for $9.75. Try a draft from Atwater Brewery, a solid local option. Other breweries from the state of Michigan can be found here including Bell's, Founder's, Crooked Tree, and Arbor Brewing Company.
For those looking to stay sober, Coca-Cola products are available with a 16 oz. soda for $4.25 and double that size for only an extra buck. Tim Horton's coffee is available and is a good way to stay warm throughout the game.
Joe Louis Arena lacks the luxury suites that often push the upper bowl into the stratosphere. This allows them to pack in even more fans than usual; capacity here is 20,027, second largest seating in the league behind the Bell Centre in Montreal. Even with such a large crowd, there are no bad seats in the place and it really gives the rink an old barn feel.
Add to that the fact that the Red Wings are an Original 6 team and also the most successful club over the past couple of decades, having made the playoffs every season in the past quarter century (the last year they didn't make the playoffs was 1990). The Red Wings have won four Stanley Cups during this period (1997, 1998, 2002, and 2007), bringing their franchise total to 11, and their consistent success adds to the prospect that you'll have a spectacular evening of hockey.
Red banners hang throughout the arena, commemorating the many titles in the history of the Detroit Red Wings. Retired jerseys hang in the same row with the 11 white Stanley Cup banners. The players include icons like Gordie Howe (#9), Terry Sawchuk (#1), Ted Lindsay (#7), Alex Delvecchio (#10), Sid Abel (#12), and Steve Yzerman (#19). Yzerman's jersey banner also has a "C" on it, in deference to him being the longest serving captain on a team in the history of the NHL.
Once you get inside the arena, you'll find your seat to have about average leg room, and no cup holder. However, the back couple of rows, especially in the corners, have a little extra leg room. The scoreboard is quite outdated by NHL standards; the video screen shows very few replays and has no statistics during the game.
The Joe is located next to the Detroit River; just a few minutes walk from the city center. There is not much in the immediate vicinity of the rink, and the city certainly has a reputation for danger so few fans make the walk from downtown. That said, if you are willing to walk, then there are some options available to you, but some travelers may want to be more cautious.
There are a few bars close by, with Tommy's Detroit Bar and Grill the closest recommendation. They have a friendly staff, lots of TVs, and a good crowd both before and after the game, making this a good spot to visit. Food here is surprisingly tasty and affordable as well.
Further afield you can find The Hockeytown Café, which is next to Comerica Park. Expect to wait for a table on almost every game day, but you can bide your time checking out all the hockey memorabilia. If you want to include a visit, then make it your first stop and shoot for 2-3 hours before the puck drops.
A somewhat less celebrated place is Cheli's Chili Bar, owned by former NHL great Chris Chelios. Here you will find very reasonably priced bar food, with the signature chili being your best bet. They also have a stand along the concourse inside Joe Louis Arena.
Another option is to park closer to Greektown and take the Detroit People Mover (the elevated train that costs 75 cents to ride) to the game. There is a stop at Joe Louis Arena, and it is also a fun way to see the city.
When many fans think of the Red Wings, they may think of octopus. Wings fans are famous for throwing octopi on to the ice, although the tradition is generally reserved for playoff games. If you wish to fit in, you can order some to eat at New Parthenon, a Greek restaurant without pretense. A little saganaki (flaming cheese) is always a good thing too, and they do it with great panache here.
If you like to gamble, then there are several casino options and Greektown Casino is nearby. Many fans park here, gamble on the penny slots for a while to get their parking validated, and then take the People Mover to the game.
Hockey fans in Detroit are a bit spoiled. With a quarter century of always being in the playoffs, including four Stanley Cups, it is hard to blame them for their increased expectations. You may find more empty seats than you would think, especially during the week and against less successful teams.
There is no doubt though that the fans are passionate about their team, and you will surely hear some acute observations about the team and the game. The players on the ice are collectively the conductor, and the Wings fans are the orchestra who musically ooh and ah as the game progresses.
Red Wings jerseys are prevalent throughout the crowd, and almost everyone at Joe Louis Arena is wearing red and white. It is difficult to spot many fans of the opposing squad in the masses, unless Toronto is visiting. Yzerman jerseys still seem to be the most popular, but there is a smattering of Lidstrom, Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and Howe.
In general, the etiquette of Red Wings fans is impressive. They stay in their seats while the puck is in play, and stay to the end of the game.
There is a large parking garage right next to the Joe (900 W Jefferson, with cost of $20 per vehicle) that is the choice of many fans. Others park downtown, although meters are enforced until 10 p.m. Another lot can be found at 645 Washington St. for $10. My advice is to park downtown and take the People Mover, or stay downtown in one of the nearby hotels and walk over.
Inside, expect things to be very crowded. The single concourse is relatively narrow, and during intermissions, moving around is simply not advised. This is even more true when you need to use a restroom. Lines are insanely long, so if you want to drink, get an aisle seat so you can beat the rush. Otherwise, use the TV timeouts to race to the restroom.
The lack of space is a good reason to arrive to a game early so you can navigate to your seats and get something to eat or drink.
I always appreciate a statue in a stadium, and Joe Louis Arena has beautiful statues dedicated to Howe, Lindsay, and Delvecchio. However, these huge statues only serve to make the crowded walkway even more crowded.
There is no reason to buy lower level seats here when the upper level is so close to the ice. Tickets range from $42 to $75 in the upper deck for less popular opponents, a deal for the quality of the team. Expect to pay $120 or more when you get to the lower bowl along the sides. All prices are before fees and of course, the secondary market provides options as well. Tickets on Ticket Monster, start around $85 for most games.
When you look at parking, tickets, and concessions, then you can plan to pay quite a bit, but it is a worthwhile adventure, especially when you consider how quickly old venues like this are disappearing. Make a trip while you still can.
Even before entering, you will be reminded of the wonderful history of this franchise. Stanley Cup posters dot a bridge next to the stadium, alumni legends posters are next to the Gordie Howe entrance, and a mural is inside the ticket office.
The three statues might take up concourse space but they are worthy of an extra point.
The arena is named for Joe Louis, the legendary boxer who hailed from Detroit and died two years after the venue opened. It is one of two NHL rinks lacking a corporate name (Madison Square Garden is the other) and that merits a point. If you are coming from the east, walk through Cobo Center and take a look at the Joe Louis statue and fight-used gloves as well.
There are TVs on the concourse so you can see the action while getting some food or drink.
Look for current Red Wings painted along the pillars throughout the concourse.
The heavy black or red curtains that block each entrance to the seating bowl, keeping the ambient noise to a minimum and allowing fans in their seats to enjoy the game to the fullest.
Joe Louis Arena is the last bastion of a dying breed of hockey rink. With the Islanders moving to Brooklyn in 2015, only Detroit and Edmonton have these old-time hockey barns. If you have yet to get to the Joe, you are now on the clock. Yes, it is small and crowded, but when you can sit so close to witness one of the best clubs in all of pro sports, you can't complain.
The NHL's most successful team over the last two decades resides in Joe Louis Arena, a drab gray structure that succeeded the classically brick Olympia Stadium in 1979.
Home of the Detroit Red Wings, designers executed a plan to build the city's first waterfront sports arena. "The Joe", as it is affectionately referred to by locals, sits on the Detroit River just a few blocks south of Detroit's dominant skyline piece, the Renaissance Center. When walking up the riverside staircase to enter a game at night, lights from across the river reflect onto the water creating a picturesque view of Windsor. The Red Wings have been the only professional sports team to utilize the Joe for nine years--two professional soccer teams and OHL franchises formerly called this plot facing Canada home.
A stark contrast from modern NHL palaces, Joe Louis Arena will never be confused with a half-billion dollar venue. Its simplicity is resounding. Concourses are expectedly lined with pictures and sculptures of Red Wings past. Stands and booths await passersby, while scorebook sellers dish product behind solid-colored podiums. Detroit's hockey cave matches former MLB parks Veterans Stadium and Three Rivers Stadium in uniqueness. Built in an era when efficiency was valued over aesthetics, the only standout features hang in the rafters above the ice.
The atmosphere around Hockeytown on a Red Wings game day is great, and the fans are arguably the best in the sport. Yeah, the arena is beginning to show its age, but this is still a very special place.
Recently attended a game at Joe Louis Arena with my son. This is a great arena that feels old and cozy. Is it the nicest place in the world? No. But it does feel like a hockey arena, and the fans are as passionate as it gets.
I also found that parking near the Greek Town Casino and taking the people mover to the arena is the way to go. Plus my 4 year old loved going on the train.
The Detroit Red Wings are an Original 6 franchise in the NHL. Not only are they a historically significant organization, but they are also one of the most consistently great franchises in the past two decades. Their arena is simply known as the Joe, short for Joe Louis Arena. The namesake of the arena, heavyweight champ and Detroit native Joe Louis, died two years after the facility opened in 1979.
If you park along Washington Avenue, you may have the opportunity to cut through Cobo Arena, and see a great statue of Joe Louis as well as his "glove that floored Nazi Germany," the right hand glove used in a knockout of Max Schmeling for the Heavyweight Championship in 1938 at Yankee Stadium.
Today you will hear from many that believe that JLA needs to be replaced by a more modern facility. You’ll hear an opposition that feels like the classic arena needs to be protected and cherished. It is hard to read the tea leaves to see what the future may hold, but there is little doubt that a trip to Joe Louis Arena is well worth it not just for hockey fans, but for sports fans in general.
Old, run down, crowded, horrible access and worst restrooms ever. If not for the history and legacy, this would be the worst. That said, I am happy I can say I made it there to see the Wings play, history does count for a lot!
I really love this great arena in the motor city and right across from Windsor and its great place to watch the Red Wings in action.
WWE SNOW NEWS OK
In 2012, the Detroit Red Wings first announced plans for a new venue to replace Joe Louis Arena, which they have called home since 1979. Just before the 2014 NHL season got underway, ground was broken on the new arena with completion scheduled for 2017. This allowed the City of Detroit, which owns JLA, to sell off the riverside area in which the old barn sits as part of a bankruptcy agreement. It was soon announced that the Joe would be demolished as part of a revitalization project that should see the Motor City begin to reclaim much of its lost glory. So if you want to see Joe Louis Arena, you should start making plans as you’ve got less than three NHL seasons to do so.
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