Detroit's Little Caesars Arena prepares for grand opening

The big, bold ideas incorporated into the design are what make the new arena incomparable
– HOK vice-president Ryan Gedney

Almost 2,000 people have attended a private opening event for the Little Ceasers Arena; a 20,000-capacity sports and entertainment venue located in the heart of Detroit.

Politicians, athletes, media personalities and business and civic leaders attended the event on Tuesday (5 September) to take a first look at the hotly-anticipated venue – the new home of National Hockey League (NHL) franchise the Detroit Red Wings and National Basketball Association (NBA) team the Detroit Pistons.

Designed by sports architects HOK, the arena covers a 895,000sq ft (83,000sq m) site and stretches 460 ft (140.2m) from north to south. It has been conceived as the anchor of a wider leisure district of shops, restaurants, bars, cafes, which is being developed at an estimated cost of US$1.2bn (€998.4m, £916.3m).

To help integrate the arena with the surrounding community, the lower main concourse is completely at grade – meaning district and concourse activities both take place at street level.

“Construction teams have faced a host of challenges, from tracking sustainability for multiple buildings to creating an arena with one of the steepest bowls ever built – which creates an intimidating wall of people,” said HOK vice-president Ryan Gedney, in an interview with Engineering News-Record.

“The big, bold ideas incorporated into the design are what make the new arena incomparable. We’re not the first to do what we’re doing, but we’re definitely the first to do it on this scale. The simple size of it puts us on a whole new level.”

The project is being funded by both private and public investment, and the Little Caesars pizza chain recently agreed a 20-year naming rights agreement worth more than US$6m per year for the arena – one of the largest sponsorship investments ever made for a hockey stadium.

The Red Wings played at their previous home, Joe Louis Arena, since 1927.

The Little Caesers Arena will officially open with six Kid Rock concerts starting on 12 September. The Red Wings' first game is a preseason meeting with the Boston Bruins on 23 September, while the Pistons will play its first friendly fixture in on 4 October.

It has been a busy few weeks for HOK, who are currently overseeing the completion of the US$1.5bn (€1.24bn, £1.14bn) Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta following a preseason exhibition between the Atlanta Falcons and the Arizona Cardinals.

Detroit  Little Caesars Arena  NHL  NBA  HOK  Detroit Red Wings  Detroit Pistons  architecture  design  Ryan Gedney 
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