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  • Writer's pictureMeg Minard

Little Caesars Arena – Detroit Red Wings

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29

Little Caesars Arena 2645 Woodward Ave Detroit, MI 48201

Year Opened: 2017

Capacity: 19,515


Hockeytown Est. 1926

The NHL’s Detroit Red Wings moved from its aging Joe Louis Arena to the new, technologically-advanced Little Caesars Arena in 2017. The once fierce, proud, unbeatable hockey team in the 1990’s and 2000’s has lost its grandeur as they have struggled on the ice the last few seasons. The Red Wings are one of the Origin Six – the group of six teams that made up the National Hockey League between 1942 and 1967.

The new arena has many great features while still maintaining the Hockeytown history but the game day experience is less than desired for the price a fan pays. Read on…

Food & Beverage 5

Red Wings and visiting fans have a plethora of food and drink choices available when attending a game, though at very high prices. Restaurants, bars, and concession stands line the two levels of the arena.

Four restaurants include Sports and Social, Mike’s Pizza Bar, Kid Rock’s Made In Detroit, and The District Market. All are accessible from both the outside and inside the arena except for The District Market which is only open for breakfast and lunch and just for fans attending a game on Sat and Sun.

Nine bars are supplied along the concourses of the venue. The 1701 Pub on the second level carries local brews such as North Peak, Griffin Claw, Arbor Brewing Company, and more. Prices for beer run $10.75/domestic can, $12/craft can, $13/large domestic draft, and $15/large craft draft.

Other food choices include:

  • Little Caesar’s Pizza (of course) $7 – $15 (if getting a whole Detroit-style deep-dish pie)

  • the Coop (chicken) entrées sell for $10.75 – $15.50

  • 313 Grill Co (burgers, dogs, sausage, poutine, fries, etc.) $5.50 – $11.75

  • Mac & Cheese $8 – $13.50

Traditional snacks like peanuts, popcorn, cotton candy, chips, pretzels, nachos, and the like are offered at most of the stands. Bottled soda (Coke variety) is $5.50 with bottled water priced at $5.25.

Two commendable features of the concession’s layout are the number of food and drink rails that line the concourses making it easy to consume purchased items without having to juggle them getting to your seats. The second feature to help reduce wait time is fast lanes if you just want beer.

All in all, Little Caesars Arena has an excellent concession design with plenty of choices but expect to spend a pretty penny.

Atmosphere 2

Little Caesars Arena concourses (inside and outside) are designed to resemble a streetscape, a public place where people are encouraged to engage in various social activities and is quite pleasing to the eye.

The seating area (at least the second level) is a different story. The second level is really, really dark. Fans can’t see anything or even read the nice program that is handed out. The second level is extremely steep and dangerous for those not steady on their feet. Handrails, thankfully, are available. No cup holders are in the second level, the seats are narrow but cushioned, and there’s minimal leg room. It is uncomfortable and not something expected for a two-year-old facility.

If sitting in the second level not behind the goal, get the first few rows, otherwise, from row 8 and above an overhanging gondola seating section will block the view of the video board and the view of a multi-grid, color-changing, cool-looking ceiling. The much-hyped gondola seating is located at the very top of Little Caesars Arena and runs along the west upper side of the venue. Sitting here for a hockey game provides a very unique atmosphere thanks to the private box style feel and personal ledges in front of the seats, however the views are far from ideal as you will almost be looking straight down at the ice through a thick layer of plexiglass. This area is definitely not for those with acrophobia.

Closed captioning is not provided. The organization does an excellent job of providing stats and game information on the scoreboard. The scoreboard is the perfect size for the arena and displays shots on goal, period, goals, assists, penalties, and players’ time on ice. For fans with sensory needs, a sensory bag is offered free of charge. The bags carry items such as noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards and weighted lap pads. I am told two quiet rooms are available, one being the Mothers Room.

Pregame announcements are so loud, they’re invasive and make your ears hurt painfully. The volume of both the screeching female and the male announcers is quite deafening. While the content is relevant, they just need to turn the volume down when doing the pregame broadcast announcements in the arena. [Maybe I should have gotten one of those sensory bags.] Advice: Bring aspirin. That said, an excellent video montage is displayed on the ice during the player introductions and the national anthem. This is worth seeing.

Fans can take photos of themselves by a replica Red Wings bench. It’s a nice souvenir. Organist, Lance Luce, fills the air with throwback organ music. A 50/50 raffle is on hand every game.

Neighborhood 4

Downtown Detroit is not the scary place it used to be. It’s a safe environment to visit now, at least near the sports complexes which also includes Comerica Park and Ford Field and is known as “District Detroit.” The city has and continues to revitalize the neighborhood. Fans now come downtown to hang out pre and postgame; not something that was done twenty years ago. Lots of construction is still in process as the city builds to enhance the neighborhood experience.

Plenty of places for food and beverages are nearby including the four attached to the arena. Two other recommended places are Harry’s and the Detroit Beer Company. Harry’s – depending on which door is entered – might not seem inviting but it really is a decent bar with friendly, hard-working staff. It serves pub fare and is just a block from the arena. Detroit Beer Company (maybe three or four blocks from the arena) is worth a visit as they brew their own beers and have a tasty selection of food choices.

Other things to do in downtown Detroit can include seeing a show at the historic Fox Theatre and visiting the Greektown area and its casinos and district.

Hotels are quite expensive downtown Detroit. The Holiday Inn Express Downtown or the Greektown Hotel are two options about a mile from the arena.

Other sports to visit in Detroit during hockey season are the Detroit Pistons (NBA), maybe a late season Detroit Tigers game (MLB), and the Detroit Lions (NFL). The University of Detroit Mercy and Oakland University (10 – 30 miles from downtown respectively) offer NCAA D1 sports while Wayne State University (less than a mile from the arena) showcases D2 sports.

Fans 3

Detroit fans are quite proud of their sports teams. Fans are disappointed with their Red Wings early this 2019-2020 season and it shows. Lots of cursing and expressions of dismay can be heard. The seats are not filled especially in the lower level which is a shame for such a distinguished team.

That said, Red Wings jerseys with the well-known winged-wheel are worn by most of the fans in attendance. Attendance has dropped a bit over the last few years but still average between 96.5 % – 100 % tickets-sold capacity.

The Red Wings are not the power house they were in the 1990’s and early 2000’s but fans still congregate to enjoy the game at their new digs, Little Caesars Arena.

Access 4

Downtown Detroit is quite a distance from the Detroit Airport and minimal public transportation is available from the airport. An Uber ride will cost $50 – $60 each way to and from downtown.

Once downtown, an above ground People Mover train ride and the QLine streetcar can be taken to get close to Little Caesars Arena. The QLine, in fact, drops fans off right in front of the arena at Sproat St/Adelaide St.

Be sure to check if other Detroit teams are playing the same day (Lions or late season Tigers games) as parking will be more difficult to find. Thirty-two parking facilities are within a 10-min walk to the arena with the closest (and most expensive) the Little Caesars Arena Parking Garage which has a covered walkway to access the arena. Parking generally runs $20 – $45 depending on lot and event. Click here for a map of the parking lots in downtown Detroit.

Uber/Lyft pickup is available on the south side of the arena on I-75 Service Drive near Woodward Ave.

Clear bags are not required when entering the arena for a Red Wings game. Doors open 90 minutes before game time. This allows fans and visitors plenty of time to check out the venue and enjoy the bars, exhibits, and restaurants in the arena.

Concourses are plenty wide but still can get congested between periods. Plenty of signage is available for getting around and service reps are extremely helpful. The downstairs main merchandise shop has the best variety of souvenirs.

As with most professional sports venues these days, mobile ticketing is the primary method of entry.

Return on Investment 2

This is one venue where splurging to get a lower level seat might be a good idea because the upper level seating is just way too dangerous and uncomfortable. Ticket prices are pretty insane. Weekend games tend to start at $41 or $59 dollars for a single seat and go up to $339 or $395 depending on opponent. Weekday games can start $23 but those are the not-recommended, scary, video board and ceiling obstructed view, second level ones against some less-popular teams.

Beers for $10 – $15 and parking as high as $45 is beyond the average sports fans’ budget. Outside beverages and food are not allowed to be brought into the arena.

Extras 3

An informative game day program is handed out on entry to the venue.

Lots of exhibits, sculptures, and artwork are displayed on the concourse and many Red Wing retired numbers and championship banners hang from the rafters.

The Frozen Four will be held at Little Caesars Arena in 2020. Kudos to the city of Detroit for restoring the downtown neighborhood and making it a place to venture for entertainment.

Final Thoughts

Affectionately known as Hockeytown, Detroit is a unique market in the United States where a pretty substantial argument can be made that it is a hockey-first market. While Little Caesars Arena is a great improvement over the old Joe Louis Arena, it is too dark, too steep, too loud, and way too expensive for the average ‘Joe.’

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