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  • Dave Cottenie

Little Caesars Arena – Detroit Pistons



Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71

Little Caesars Arena 2465 Woodward Avenue Detroit, MI 48201

Detroit Pistons website

Little Caesars Arena website


Year Opened: 2017

Capacity: 20,491

 

It’s Still Deee-Troit Bas-ket-ball

The public address announcer for the Detroit Pistons of the NBA takes great pleasure when the Pistons get possession of the ball after it goes out of bounds. The sweet sounds of John Mason’s “Dee-troit Bas-ketIball” is as iconic in the Motor City as the Bad Boys themselves. However, since the seventies the Pistons were the victim of a bitter ownership feud between Pistons owner Bill Davidson and Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Illitch. When the Red Wings moved out of Olympia Arena, the Pistons protested what they viewed as poor conditions at Cobo Arena and moved out of Detroit proper to Pontiac to play in the ridiculously massive Pontiac Silverdome. In 1988 the Pistons would leave Pontiac for a more appropriate venue in Auburn Hills at The Palace of Auburn Hills. The Palace was a terrific venue for the Pistons and they would see their greatest franchise moments there including their three NBA Championships and over 300 consecutive sellouts.

With the Pistons changing ownership to Tom Gores after the death of Bill Davidson, and the Red Wings building a new arena, the opportunity presented itself to move back downtown after four decades away. Mike Illitch was always a proponent of bringing businesses back downtown and he always put his money where his mouth was. Little Caesars Arena is the new home for both the Red Wings and the Pistons and is just on the other side of the Fisher Freeway from close neighbors Ford Field, Comerica Park and the Fox Theater. John Mason has joined the Pistons and his iconic call can still be heard throughout basketball games. It may be a bit of an unfamiliar locale, but it is still Detroit Basketball.


Food & Beverage 4

In any new arena, or arena that has a significant renovation, concessions seems to be front and center, and Little Caesars arena is no different. Upon entering the arena it is not hard to find an LCA staff member that is willing to show the different concession options on the arena map that they carry with them. Little Caesars Arena offers a few larger concession areas as opposed to many small stands. The Classics concession has all of those arena options that fans would expect including hot dogs ($4.75), popcorn ($4.50), pretzels, brats and nachos. Other concession areas fans may consider include the Coop, which features a variety of chicken options, Kid Rock’s Made in Detroit, Mike’s Pizza Bar, Mac & Cheese and of course Little Caesars Pizza ($6.75). One of the most popular spots is the District Market, which offers a variety of different stands in an urban market type of setting.

There are a variety of craft beer selections available at Little Caesars Arena. The traditional, Budweiser and Bud Light as well as Blue Light can be found but Bell’s and Goose Island products are also easily found as well as Founders’ All Day IPA. Beer is found from $9.00 to $11.50. Other cocktails and daiquiris can be found throughout also. Soft drinks feature Coca-Cola products ($6/$7.25) and bottled water and hot beverages are also available. One of the great parts of the Little Caesars Arena concession scene is that there are great concession options on the upper level as well as the lower level, which is not necessarily commonplace.

Atmosphere 5

Little Caesars Arena attempts to meld a modern arena with something from a different era. The exterior of the Little Caesars Arena attempts to bring you back to old Olympia Arena in Detroit, which the Pistons and Red Wings shared. A healthy mix of glass and brick, the exterior of Little Caesars Arena is very attractive. The west side of the arena features the Chevrolet Plaza which has a huge video screen and is a terrific meeting spot between the arena and parking garage. There are also a number of restaurants around the arena, one of which, curiously, features a large outdoor patio which would not be used during either hockey or basketball seasons. The exterior is filled with LED screens which change content based on the event being held. For Pistons games, the exterior looks much more like the home of the Pistons than for other events.

On the inside of Little Caesars Arena, there is a distinct clash of styles. The exterior is an old school Detroit warehouse feel, similar to Ford Field. The use of brick and very high open ceilings along with large windows to allow natural light in gives the arena a whole different feel. The details are significant with large pictures of key athletes and displays of historic memorabilia, right down to the manhole covers that honor specific Pistons or Red Wings athletes. The feel of walking through a promenade or outdoor mall is strong when walking through the concourses. The interior is far different, with a significantly modern feel. Around the seating bowl, the use of lighting is very strong, blue or red for the exterior of the seating bowl. The upper concourses retain a view of the lower concourses giving the arena an open and airy feel.

Inside the seating bowl, fans are immediately greeted with the massive, crystal clear video board and the sheer volume of banners hanging from the rafters. Piston greats Chauncey Billups, Chuck Daly, Ben Wallace, Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman, Isiah Thomas, Vinnie Johnson, Bob Lanier, Dave Bing, Richard Hamilton, Bill Laimbeer, Bill Davidson and Jack McCloskey are all honored and have banners hanging with the 1989, 1990 and 2004 NBA Championship banners. The arena floor is in a north-south orientation and that perfect picture of the court will come from the east side of the court. The seats in Little Caesars Arena are large and padded with red leather.

The Pistons put together a solid show as part of their game day experience. The Pistons do a phenomenal job of using their new LED light technology as part of the show, not the least of which is creating an LED colored ceiling which changes for different events. The Pistons Entertainment Team helps entertain the crowd with the Pistons Dancers performing at breaks and welcoming fans as they enter the arena. The Pistons Drumline plays as part of the pregame intros welcoming the teams and the mascot Hooper makes his way around the arena and flies the Pistons flag at the beginning of the game. Upon exiting the arena at the end of the evening or afternoon, the Pistons Drumline plays in the concourse to hopefully send off the Pistons faithful back to their transportation happy. Pistons PA announcer John Mason is now a local legend with his call, especially his “Deee-Troit Bas-ket-ball” when the Pistons get the ball on a side out.

Neighborhood 4

Little Caesars Arena is located north of the Fisher Freeway, I-75, in an area of Detroit that is still undergoing some significant gentrification. Both Comerica Park and Ford Field are on the other side of the highway, well within walking distance, in an area that has been better developed over a significant period of time. The whole area is now being referred to as District Detroit. Technically, the arena is at the south end of the Midtown neighborhood. There are a number of options for fans for both pre and post game fare. Some options include the restaurants that are in Little Caesars Arena as well as Harry’s, Detroit One Coney Island, the Detroit Beer Co, Cheli’s Chili Bar and the infamous Hockeytown Cafe.

Little Caesars Arena is located near the Greektown neighborhood, which features the Greektown Casino. Other entertainment options nearby include the Fox Theatre, the Fillmore Detroit and the Detroit Opera House. Other sporting options nearby include the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings, which share Little Caesars Arena, the Detroit Tigers of MLB who play at Comerica Park and the Detroit Lions of the NFL who play at Ford Field. All are in walking distance. Traditionally, Ford Field hosts the Quick Lane Bowl on December 26th and features NCAA football teams from the Big Ten, ACC and or MAC. The closest NCAA basketball venue is Calihan Hall, which is the home of the Detroit Mercy Titans of the Horizon League.

Fans who require accommodations near Little Caesars Arena may want to consider The Inn at 97 Winder, the Hilton Garden Inn or the Greektown Hotel.

Fans 3

At one point in time, Detroit Pistons fans were the cream of the crop. Recording over three hundred consecutive sell-outs across the eighties and nineties, The Palace was rocking and a rough place to play as an opponent. Tough economic times throughout Michigan and Detroit would take its toll on the Pistons and attendance began to fall off from the regular 22,000 fans to around 15,000. Unfortunately with the move to Little Caesars Arena the attendance figures have not really improved. Considering that at the time of this review, the Pistons were greatly improved from the previous season, holding down a top four playoff spot and playing in a brand new building, this is definitely a disappointment. Curiously, attendance for Red Wings games are as strong as ever.

Access 3

Little Caesars Arena is located immediately north of I-75, the Fisher Freeway, between Highway 10 and I-375. It is immediately north of Downtown Detroit proper, in Midtown. The Fisher Freeway is a sunken highway with a few streets that cross over the highway. The downtown part of Detroit, south of the highway, can get very congested also, especially if there are events at the theatres, Comerica Park or Ford Field. All of this adds to a very congested drive to the arena from the south. There is parking on both sides of the highway, but it can be very pricy. Although, parking is not too difficult to find, there are ads all over the arena to pre-book and pre-pay for parking. There is a lack of private lots outside of the large garages and during a busy day it is very conceivable that fans who have not planned appropriately will have difficulty finding parking. Parking is expensive and will range from $25 to $40 and above.

For fans who require public transit, there are buses that travel Woodward Ave as well as light rail, the QLine. Fans can check the QLine and Detroit Department of Transportation websites for fares, maps and schedules. There is also a shuttle bus that heads to the arena from the Greektown Casino.

Ticketing windows are best found in the Chevrolet Plaza, which offers a great deal of space. Security and entry into major sports stadiums and arenas is in a constant state of flux. When heading to an event at Little Caesars Arena, it is highly recommended that fans consult the Detroit Pistons and Little Caesars Arena websites to find out the most current security procedures.

The concourses in Little Caesars Arena are fairly wide and getting around the arena is not too difficult. The washrooms are adequate for the arena size.


Return on Investment 3

As far as compared to other major sports, the NBA remains one of the better bargains. Tickets can be found on the primary market for as little as $14 and can go up to $275. As with other teams and leagues, ticket prices will fluctuate for various dates and visiting teams. For example, the cheapest ticket available for the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors when they come to Little Caesars Arena is $75. Both concession and parking prices are on the expensive side. Fans will find the experience at the Pistons enjoyable, and for the most part feel that they received their monies worth. However, rapidly rising costs across all sports is becoming a significant impediment and should not be discounted when questioning the lower than expected attendance numbers.

Extras 4

An extra mark for PA announcer John Mason and his iconic “Deee-Troit Bas-ket-ball” call.


An extra mark for the Pistons working with the city and the Detroit Red Wings to bring the Pistons back downtown and contribute to the reinvigoration of downtown Detroit.

An extra mark for the use of LED lighting, which Little Caesars Arena uses to perfection.

An extra mark for Piston promotions. The game which was reviewed was Star Wars Night and a great time for kids young and old.

Final Thoughts

Although The Palace of Auburn Hills was a solid home for the Detroit Pistons, the lure of a brand new arena in a new era of Detroit ownership cooperation was too much for the Pistons to pass up. Overall the move to Little Caesars Arena is a positive one for the Pistons and will be a great home for the team for years to come. For those who long for the Palace, fear not, there is much the same at LCA and it is still Deee-troit Bas-ket-ball!

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