Photos and video: Alisha Dixon
By Alisha Dixon
With less than three months until the official opening of the new Little Caesars Arena, Tom Wilson, president and CEO of Olympia Entertainment, gave members of the media a tour Monday of the soon to be completed arena complex.
The arena will act as the epicenter of the District Detroit, Wilson said, with over 250 events from May to September each year, making it more than an arena, but a destination.
“It’s going to change the way people attend an event,” Wilson said.
Kick Rock’s September 12 concert, will mark the official opening of Little Caesars Arena.
The complex, costing well over $800 million, comprises of the Red Wings practice facility, numerous restaurants and bars, retail and commercial buildings, a parking structure connected to the arena via a bridge and an outdoor plaza that can accommodate up to 4,000 people.
The design of the arena and complex, Wilson revealed, is inspired by some of the best arenas in the world, including one from the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the Montreal Canadiens Bell Centre and Madison Square Gardens. It will accommodate different seating configurations for up to 20,000 people for Red Wings and Pistons games, concerts and other events with adjustable telescopic seating. The scoreboard, measuring 44 feet on each side, will be the largest in the NHL. Even behind the scene details like tension wire grids in the rafters allow riggers to set up and remove events in one day instead of three. When it comes to amenities, Wilson revealed the arena was built in a way that will provide visitors with a more comfortable experience than at Joe Louis Arena and the Palace.
“One of the advantages of the Joe being so old… It was so old that is was from a completely different generation. So, what happened was once we built the Palace, that sort of changed the way arenas were built forever,” Wilson said about choosing the arenas amenities.
“The advantage we had in building now and being the last of a generation is that we can go to every building and say “What are the one or two things each does best?” and then borrow as many of those things as we can and put them all in one place. So, when we’re done, this building should be the best of the best ideas of building arenas in this country.”
In the Via concourse, a large atrium-like space with a curved glass roof inspired by the High Line in New York, visitors will be able to gather to watch games or concerts projected onto a large aluminum screen that Wilson proudly said is larger than screens in Times Square, Las Vegas and Disney.
“Between periods or between quarters or between acts this is sort of a great place to circulate all the way around the building,” the Olympia CEO said about the Via concourse.
“On the perimeter of these outer buildings are 12 laser projectors and so the entire game can be put up on this entire circle. You can literally go from goal line to goal line all the way around the other side of the building… It’s going to be a little bit overwhelming. You can sort of change the color of the skin from red on Red Wings games to blue on Pistons games to green on St. Paddy’s Day.”
Please watch exclusive behind the scenes footage of the arena below