Joe Louis Arena
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Joe Louis Arena
"Now follow along as we head downtown, past the world's largest
tire, 86 feet high, standing along the highway. Say hello to the Motor
City. A really big tire. You are not in Malibu, okay? The road is not
glamorous, either. It potholes you past factories and warehouses and
finally empties onto Jefferson Avenue, by the river, where a large, flat,
industrial-looking red and gray building constitutes waterfront property.
This is our rink, Joe Louis Arena, one of the oldest in the NHL. No glitz.
No glitter. No mountains in the background. You are not in Colorado, okay?
The Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, which was opened in 1979, looks like a typical construction from the seventies. Adjectives such as "nice" or "well designed" definetly have nothing to do with the Joe, but just as most of Detroit´s inner city it´s a pretty worn down concrete-construction. Even though it looks more like a bunker than a hockey-arena the Joe Louis arena is definetly one of the better places to enjoy hockey in today´s NHL, partly due to the fact that all new arenas of the 90s look alike, no matter wether you´re in Tampa Bay, Chicago or Montreal. I would definetly prefer a season-ticket at the First Union Center in Philadelphia, but for a single game there is probably a lot more atmosphere on hand in Detroit.
As far as I know nobody in Detroit has ever mentioned the construction of a new arena so that I guess that everyone is happy with it which comes as quiet a suprise in a league where every team is more or less complaining that it needs more corporate suits, more VIP-seating and more of this and more of that. The very popular Wings should be in a good position to negoitate a deal for a new arena with the city, but I guess that due to the fact that everything is kind of shabby in the city a nice arena just wouldn´t fit into the picture here.
A cab-driver told me that Detroit will have better days ahead when all the headquarters of the automobile-industry get crushed by earthquakes in California but as far as I can imagine that won´t happen and the inner city of Detroit will continue to fall apart. Of all the inner-cities I have seen in the USA or Canada Detroit is definetly the ugliest town of them all and there is not really a lot of competition that would get even close..
Tips for visitors:
Watching hockey in Hockeytown (at least that´s what Detroit claims to be) might be a great experience for every hockey fan. You can also take a look at the inner-city but you will probably return to the hotel half an hour later, there just doesn´t seem to be too much to see in the downtown area. I would plan a one-day trip, the Joe is worth it, the city isn´t.
Getting tickets might be the biggest obstacle in your way. There are always scalpers
around but those who approached me when I walked around the arena a couple of hours before
the game didn´t seem to be too trust-worthy (Detroit-effect) so I would try the
box-office instead. It´s definetly a wise choice to order tickets way in advance. With a
capacity of 19.995 the arena is rather large, but there is also an enormous fan-base
around (some of them are standing-room tickets).
Once you´re in downtown Detroit you have basically found the arena already. The downtown area is rather small, a monorail is also circeling through it and also stops at the Joe (very comfortable when you got a hotel somewhere downtown and don´t want to take the car to the game). I read that the Detroit Tigers have a new ballpark (baseball) somewhere near the downtown-area so this might have improved some of the infrastructure but as far as I can tell from my trip to the city it´s a place I wouldn´t really want to visit again (besides for hockey). At least the city is part of the cities with the highest murder-per-capita-rate in the US, the only department besides hockey where Detroit rules.
If you come into town by train as I did you will end up somewhere a bit out of town.
The taxi-ride should be about 10 dollars. Be aware of the typical cab-driver in Detroit.
On both rides I took he forgot to turn on the counter and I bet that I paid quiet a bit
too much at the end ("oh, forgot to turn it on, wait, well, would have probably been
5 dollars so far" -- yea right...).
Seating chart of the Joe:
Seating chart provided by www.eishockey.com.
Links to the team:
Detroit Red Wings: www.detroitredwings.com