Mar 6, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; General view during the first period of the game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Colorado Avalanche at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Ilitch Holdings Release New Arena, Entertainment District Plans

Ilitch Holdings released its new arena and entertainment district concept Sunday morning, the day of Mike Ilitch’s 85th birthday and Pavel Datsyuk’s 36th birthday.

Not only will the concept include a hockey and events center, but the area will be surrounded by apartments, restaurants, office buildings, parks and shops over 45 blocks.

The arena will cost $450 million, while $200 million will be dedicated to the rest of the entertainment district. Here is what Chris Ilitch, CEO of Ilitch Holdings, said about the project.

We think the impact on our community will be exponential if it’s all done at once. This project takes on a much bigger scale. There is nothing like this going on in our country.

The district is planned to be finished in the summer of 2017 with construction beginning in September. The playing surface of the arena will be about 32-34 feet below street level, which means the arena will only be about two or three stories tall.

One of the biggest cons for the new arena was the estimated 18,500 seats, which would be a downgrade from the 20,066 Joe Louis Arena currently seats. However, the released plan estimates the new arena will seat about 20,000. For a team that sells out the majority of its games, it’s good to see they will only be losing a small amount of seats as opposed to the nearly 1,500 estimated earlier.

Olympia Development of Michigan does maintain the rights to sell the name of the arena, and with Comerica Park and Ford Field buying the rights to those stadiums, I expect this new stadium to sell its rights to a corporate sponsor as well. It makes financial sense — especially for a city that declared bankruptcy just over a year ago — though it will not make the fans happy.

No one wants to go from beloved, rich in history Joe Louis Arena to Xfinity Arena or something similar to that. It will be a hard pill to swallow, but the amenities this new arena will have will more than make up for that.

Another great feature of the entertainment district is it will be open 365 days a year. Ilitch said the arena is planned to have more concerts, shows and other events than hockey games, which will keep people coming back year-round. This is one of the best parts of the plan as it will keep money flowing to the arena and entertainment district during the summer when the Red Wings are not playing.

Joe Louis Arena currently houses concerts, but its location isn’t ideal. The new arena will be located near Comerica Park, which will allow fans the ease of catching a Tigers game and going to the new entertainment district afterward.

Overall, the proposed plan looks amazing. It will be exciting to watch Detroit get a state-of-the-art arena and a great entertainment district surrounding it to give the city a much-needed face lift. It won’t solve all of Detroit’s problems, but it’s a big investment in the city and should help pump some money into Detroit’s economy.

Do you like the new arena and entertainment district plans?

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