Joe Louis Arena

Joe Louis Arena
The Joe
Address 19 Steve Yzerman Drive
Location Detroit, Michigan
Coordinates 42°19′31″N 83°3′5″W / 42.32528°N 83.05139°W / 42.32528; -83.05139Coordinates: 42°19′31″N 83°3′5″W / 42.32528°N 83.05139°W / 42.32528; -83.05139
Owner City of Detroit
Operator Olympia Entertainment
Capacity Ice hockey:
19,275 (1979–1989)
19,875 (1989–1996)
19,983 (1996–2000)
19,995 (2000–2001)
20,058 (2001–2003)
20,066 (2003–2014)
20,027 (2014–present)
Basketball: 20,153
Concerts: 21,666[1]
Broke ground May 16, 1977[2]
Opened December 12, 1979
Construction cost US$57 million
($186 million in 2016 dollars[3])
Architect SmithGroupJJR
General contractor Barton Malow[4]
Detroit Red Wings (NHL) (1979–present)
Detroit Pistons (NBA) (1985)
Detroit Drive (AFL) (1988–1993)
Detroit Turbos (MILL) (1989–1994)
Detroit Compuware Ambassadors (OHL) (1991–92)
Detroit Junior Red Wings (OHL) (1992–1995)
Detroit Rockers (NPSL) (1996–2000)
Inside Joe Louis Arena.
The retired numbers of former Detroit Red Wings players displayed at Joe Louis Arena.
Panorama of Joe Louis Arena in April 2008.
The Detroit Shock practice at Joe Louis Arena before Game 5 of the 2006 WNBA Finals.

Joe Louis Arena is a multi-purpose arena located in Detroit, Michigan. It is the home of the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League. Completed in 1979 at a cost of $57 million, the venue is named after former heavyweight champion boxer Joe Louis, who grew up in Detroit.[5] Only one other NHL arena, Madison Square Garden, is without a corporate sponsorship name. The second oldest NHL venue after Madison Square Garden, Joe Louis Arena is owned by the city of Detroit, and operated by Olympia Entertainment, a subsidiary of Ilitch Holdings.[6] Built as a replacement for the Detroit Olympia, it sits adjacent to Cobo Center on the bank of the Detroit River and is accessible via the Joe Louis Arena station on the Detroit People Mover.


Joe Louis Arena replaced the Detroit Olympia, where the Detroit Red Wings had played since 1927. The neighborhood around the Olympia had gradually deteriorated, especially after the 1967 Detroit riot. After two murders took place near the Olympia, Red Wings owner Bruce Norris seriously considered moving to a proposed arena in suburban Pontiac. However, the city of Detroit countered with a proposal for a new riverfront arena at one-third of the rent Pontiac was offering. The package also gave the Red Wings operational control of both the arena, nearby Cobo Arena and nearby lots.

The arena hosted its first event on December 12, 1979: a college basketball game between the University of Michigan and the University of Detroit. The Red Wings played their first game at Joe Louis Arena on December 27, 1979, hosting the St. Louis Blues.[7] Later that first season it hosted the 32nd NHL All-Star Game on February 5, 1980,[8] which was played before a then-NHL record crowd of 21,002. Joe Louis Arena was the site of the 1987 NHL Entry Draft, which marked the first NHL Entry Draft to be held in the United States. In 1980, the arena hosted the Republican National Convention where Ronald Reagan was nominated as the Republican candidate for President of the United States.

The electronic scoreboard at Joe Louis Arena, during a game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Los Angeles Kings on March 9, 2007

In 1990, color matrix boards were installed on the scoreboard; these were replaced by four Sony JumboTron video walls three years later, when the matrix boards were placed in the corners of the fascia. In 2006, LED video screens replaced the JumboTrons. The screens debuted November 22, 2006, when the Red Wings played the Vancouver Canucks. That same day, the arena's West Entrance was named the "Gordie Howe Entrance" in honor of the legendary Red Wing player, and a bronze statue of Howe was placed inside the entrance. Joe Louis Arena currently houses 86 premium suites.[9] In 2008, the arena introduced the Comerica Bank Legend's Club, a 181-person private seating location in the southeast corner of the arena.[5]

On July 20, 2014, following the July 2013 approval of a $650 million project to build a new sports and entertainment district in Downtown Detroit,[10][11] Christopher Ilitch unveiled designs for Little Caesars Arena near Comerica Park and Ford Field to be completed by 2017, which will succeed Joe Louis Arena as the future home of the Red Wings. Joe Louis Arena will be demolished following the completion of the new arena, and its site will be redeveloped.[12] On October 16, 2014, lawyers involved in the ongoing Detroit bankruptcy case disclosed in court that after demolition (which will be paid for by the city and state), the land on which the arena currently stands, along with an adjacent parking lot, will be transferred to the Financial Guaranty Insurance Company (FGIC), a bond insurer with a $1 billion claim against the city.[13] The Red Wings final regular season game in this arena is currently scheduled for April 9, 2017 against the New Jersey Devils.

Other tenants and events

In 1995, the Detroit Junior Red Wings won the Ontario Hockey League's J. Ross Robertson Cup, defeating the Guelph Storm.

Joe Louis Arena hosts college hockey events as part of College Hockey at The Joe, the Great Lakes Invitational, and the Big Ten Conference hockey tournament in 2015.[14]

The Detroit Pistons of the NBA used the arena for Game 5 of their 1984 playoff series against the New York Knicks when the Pontiac Silverdome was unavailable due to a scheduling conflict. In the game, Pistons star Isiah Thomas scored 16 points in the final 1:34 of regulation to send the game into overtime before the Pistons lost. The Pistons were forced to return to Joe Louis Arena for 15 games during the 1984–85 season, after the roof of the Silverdome collapsed during a snowstorm.

Joe Louis Arena was the site of the decisive Game 5 of the 2006 WNBA Finals between the Sacramento Monarchs and Detroit Shock on September 9, due to The Palace of Auburn Hills (the Shock's usual home arena) already being used for a Mariah Carey concert on the same day. The Shock won the game 80–75 to clinch the championship.

Former Arena Football League team the Detroit Drive also had success during their time at the arena, playing in six consecutive ArenaBowls from 1988 to 1993 and winning four of them. Four of the games (ArenaBowl III, ArenaBowl IV, ArenaBowl V and ArenaBowl VII) were played in Joe Louis Arena.

Joe Louis Arena was the site of the 2013 edition of the Skate America figure skating competition. In addition, Joe Louis Arena hosted the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, best known for the pre-competition attack on Nancy Kerrigan by associates of Tonya Harding.

On May 7, 2015, it was announced that the Horizon League Men's Basketball Tournament would be held in Detroit beginning in 2016 under a five-year deal; the 2016 and 2017 tournaments will be held at Joe Louis Arena.[15]

In addition, Joe Louis Arena is also a concert venue. Until the Palace of Auburn Hills was built in 1988, Joe Louis Arena was Michigan's largest indoor arena for concerts. The first concert to take place there occurred on February 17, 1980,[16] in which Max Webster opened for the Canadian rock group Rush. To compensate for most of Joe Louis Arena's concert business being moved north following the opening of the Palace, the Red Wings began a tradition of playing a home game on New Year's Eve. Aside from lockouts cancelling part or all of the 1994–95, 2004–05, and 2012–13 seasons, the Red Wings have left the New Year's Eve date open in years they've been scheduled to participate in the NHL Winter Classic. For New Year's Eve 2012 and 2013, the Zac Brown Band held concerts at the Joe. The 2012 date was already open due to the planned 2013 Winter Classic that was postponed by lockout until 2014.


  1. "Arena Info: General Information". The Detroit Red Wings. Retrieved December 8, 2012.
  2. "Begin Work on Stadium". The Ludington Daily News. May 17, 1977. Retrieved December 8, 2012.
  3. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  4. "JLA Construction". Detroit Red Wings. October 1, 2011. Retrieved February 8, 2013.
  5. 1 2 Wojnowski, Bob (August 10, 2010). "Competitive Spirit Makes Mike Ilitch Perfect Fit for Pistons". The Detroit News. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
  6. "About Olympia Entertainment". Retrieved March 2, 2011.
  7. Khan, Ansar (December 26, 2009). "Red Wings Celebrate 30th Anniversary of Joe Louis Arena". Michigan Live. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
  8. "NHL All-Star Game Summaries/Results by Year". National Hockey League. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
  9. "Joe Louis Arena". Retrieved March 2, 2011.
  10. Muller, David (July 24, 2013). "$650 Million Detroit Red Wings Arena Project Clears Another Public Financing Hurdle". MLive. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
  11. Shea, Bill (June 19, 2013). "DDA, Red Wings Unveil $650 Million Arena and Entertainment Complex". Crain's Detroit Business. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  12. "Detroit Rink City: Ilitches' grand plan to supersize the entertainment district". Crain's Detroit Business. Retrieved September 21, 2014.
  13. "Detroit bankruptcy deal: Joe Louis Arena site to go to creditor for hotel development". 16 October 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  14. Sipple, George (September 24, 2014). "New Detroit Arena Will Be in Mix to Host Many Events". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved November 18, 2014.
  15. "Moving Horizon League tourney to Detroit is all about branding". Detroit News. Digital First Media. May 7, 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  16. "February 17th, 1980 Rush ticket stub".
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Joe Louis Arena.
Events and tenants
Preceded by
Detroit Olympia
Home of the
Detroit Red Wings

Succeeded by
Little Caesars Arena
Preceded by
Buffalo Memorial Auditorium
Host of the
NHL All-Star Game

Succeeded by
The Forum
Preceded by
Olympic Center
Lake Placid, New York
Host of the
Frozen Four

Succeeded by
Providence Civic Center
Providence, Rhode Island
Preceded by
Providence Civic Center
Providence, Rhode Island
Host of the
Frozen Four

Succeeded by
Olympic Center
Lake Placid, New York
Preceded by
Saint Paul Civic Center
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Host of the
Frozen Four

Succeeded by
Saint Paul Civic Center
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Preceded by
Madison Square Garden
Home of the
Royal Rumble

Succeeded by
Philips Arena
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