During the 90’s, many a pundit could be heard sloganeering endlessly that “it’s the economy, stupid.” This was with regards to the political climate, and obviously, the economy, but now it seems that this attitude has spread to sports. More specifically, it has spread to the debate over where the Wings will call their home in the future. I find it it very disturbing, that so many “fans”, are quick to describe Joe Louis Arena as, shall we say, an outhouse. I’ll submit to you, my fellow fans, that these people are not really fans at all. However if they are, then they are the most materialistic, disrespectful and disinterested of the sort.
Joe Louis Arena, is my favorite place in the world. A rush of childlike euphoria, is the best way to describe my mood even when I am within sight of the solid, old facility. The smell of the finest pizza in Detroit permeates through the concourse, and then immediately gives way to the aroma of freshly cared for ice when the red leather curtains are pushed to the side, revealing a surface where so, so much magic and history have been displayed. Take just a moment and remember your favorite Red Wings moment. Chances are, it took place at this arena that so many rush to deride. Other arenas, multipurpose all, have 2-3 levels on the concourse. The Joe, as we know, has just one. This is a good thing. The buzz and energy of the crowd is infinitely more contagious at Joe Louis for this very reason, as opposed to the sterility of a place like the Pepsi Center. If you are one who frequents Red Wings games, then you certainly have run into friends and acquaintances before, during, and after the game who you can sillily recount the events of the period with. It seems to me that this is something to be enjoyed. Doesn’t it to you? Multipurpose arenas cannot offer this in quite the same way.
What I have noticed about people who flippantly insult The Joe, and claim that the Wings “need” a new facility, as if they were experts in the matter, is that hockey is not their primary sport of interest. They would prefer to watch and discuss one of the other three Detroit sports teams. Also, they are mainly concerned with the almighty dollar, vanity and expediency, as opposed to tradition, charm, and intimacy. If any of the Detroit teams are deserving of their own arena, surely the Red Wings are that team. When ancient artifacts of great importance are found, is it their opulence that impresses us? No. It is their importance on an entirely different level that is moving.
Who is more important in Detroit sports lore, Steve Yzerman, or any member of the Detroit Pistons ever? This question has an answer, and the way you answer it, will tell me a lot about you. Should any member of the Pistons be honored, or even mentioned, in the same breath as Yzerman, Howe, Lindsay, Delvecchio or Sawchuk? That’s what the case will be if the Wings are DEMOTED, to a multipurpose arena. If it were not for hockey, I would basically have no genuine interest in sports, being that none of them are anywhere near the caliber of sport that hockey is. You should sense by now that I feel very strongly about this.
Most of Joe Louis Arena, is not luxurious. But did you come to feel cozy and glamorous, or to watch a hockey game? If some renovations are in order, so be it. So I again will posit, that those who demand a new arena, should be ignored, and dismissed as mere hangers on. Hockey should be played at a rink, not a gymnasium. If nothing else, it should persuade you that different sports require different lines of sight to be thoroughly enjoyed. We have an aging but valuable pearl in Joe Louis Arena. It must not be thrown overboard.
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