Lindsay Krause is keeping an eye on the corner of Interstate 75 and Woodward Avenue, site of Detroit’s new Little Caesars Arena, the new home of the Detroit Red Wings hockey team and Detroit Pistons basketball team.
“We see the arena as a game changer for Detroit,” says Krause, senior meeting and events manager with Special D Events, a Ferndale-based experiential business meeting and special event management agency.
When finished in September, the nearly eight-story arena will join two other nearby walking-distance stadiums—the Detroit Lions’ Ford Field and Detroit Tigers’ Comerica Park—to create a fans’ paradise about a mile north of downtown Detroit’s Hart Plaza.
Entertainers are already lining up to perform there. Kid Rock opens with several concerts starting Sept. 12. After that comes Paul McCartney, Guns N’ Roses, Janet Jackson and Lady Gaga, to name a few.
Krause is anticipating the “unique VIP experiences” planners will have. “It reinforces Detroit as a destination, inspiring out-state organizations to bring their meetings and events to our city,” she says.
The arena, another major undertaking in the Ilitch family’s Little Caesars organization, has 11 private event venues, five restaurants and state-of-the-art technology.
“This is going to be the best building in the country for events—from the sight lines to the Via concourse to the outdoor spaces, it’s filled to brim with innovations and amenities that fans and community members of all kinds will enjoy,” says Tom Wilson, president and CEO Olympia Entertainment, the sports and entertainment arm of the Ilitch Organization. “Meeting planners will love the variety of spaces, as well as the flexibility within those spaces, for all types of private events.”
The sports action will take place in a “bowl” approximately 40 feet below grade with about 20,000 seats and intimate sight lines. A special high-tech “jewel skin” on the bowl’s exterior will allow video displays and largerthan-life graphics.
Interest in the new building is high. The arena’s 60 suites sold out in 40 days, organizers report. “We expect to see a significant increase in conventions and major sporting events to the area, and that will generate additional business for the hospitality industry,” says Krause.
Even getting to the facility has been upgraded after the spring 2017 debut of Detroit’s new QLINE, a streetcar system that makes stops near the new sports complex. The QLINE runs several miles along the Woodward Avenue corridor with 12 stops between Campus Martius/ Congress Avenue downtown and the uptown New Center Area.
“The Little Caesars Arena is going to give Detroit more of a competitive advantage in terms of attracting the meetings industry because of the unique product,” says Larry Alexander, president and CEO of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The facility will give us one more outstanding option to present to planners and sports organizers looking for large-scale event space.”
New sports campus is spurring change in the 50-block district.
Dubbed The District Detroit, construction crews are busy creating the largest residential development in the city in two decades. This initial phase includes 686 units, 139 designated as affordable.
The housing offers the chance to live in an historic building with in-unit laundry and high ceilings situated in an area filled with restaurants, shops, bars and entertainment. One example, The Alhambra at 100 Temple St., will offer 46 residential units. Renovation is expected to start in 2018.