By: Terry Foster
We tend to romanticize everything in this town.
Even a dump like Joe Louis Arena, a hastily built building that failed in so many ways is getting love. I’ve read the tributes to the building from journalist to players and Red Wings management. People are not paying tribute to a building, as much as they are paying tribute to a great organization.
The truth is Joe Louis Arena is one of the worst arenas in the National Hockey League and is not deserving of the name Joe Louis, who is one of the most accomplished athletes in Detroit history.
I will not miss Joe Louis Arena. They can dump the bricks and mortar into the Detroit River for all I care. It was ill planned, did not provide fans comfort and was placed in a spot that did not benefit the city and was an inconvenience for fans.
How can you jam a building behind a freeway where you cannot promote commerce while stunting the growth of Cobo Center and risk losing a big event like the North American International Auto Show?
The Joe’s greatest accomplishment is that it prevented the Red Wings from escaping to the suburbs after the Lions and Pistons left town. Detroit was turning into a sports ghost town. Organizations found better deals in the burbs and took them. The fear was that the Red Wings were going west somewhere in Novi or Farmington Hills.
Former Mayor Coleman Young slapped something together to prevent this team from leaving. But there was little planning and little thought in this building. The corridors were too narrow, the seats were too small and I remember my knees hurting because the seats were too close together.
And how many times did patrons fall on that stairway to death that led to the main entrance?
Little Caesars Arena can’t open soon enough. Detroit sports fans deserve better.
I will miss Steve Yzerman, Scotty Bowman, Darren McCarty, Nick Lidstrom and Brendan Shanahan. They brought the arena to life with their play and decision making. But these guys could make any building rock.
This is one guy that won’t shed a tear. It is time to move some place nice with the Red Wings and Pistons under the same roof in downtown Detroit. That’s where they belong and hopefully these teams will team together to create more special memories.