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Visitor's Guide to Red Wings hockey at Little Caesers Arena
It’s the inaugural season of the new Little Caesers Arena (LCA). Many pilgrims are making the trek to the new arena to watch the Detroit Red Wings play. This is my first version of this guide for first time visitors modeled after the one I put together for The Joe. I hope you find it helpful. Suggestions welcome!
Safety around the LCA as well as nearby Detroit city streets is very good. Detroit has a reputation of having high crime however in the 25 years I've been going to games in downtown Detroit I've never felt threatened for my safety. Immediately around and inside the LCA there are Detroit City and Michigan State Police as well as Olympia Security before, during, and after the game. The city streets around the LCA and out to the restaurants and hotels are walkable. But like in any modern city, keep your eyes and ears open and don't be stupid. Walk in groups. Stay (reasonably) sober. Don't go down the sketchy alley. Stay on the well-lit streets. Park in a guarded structure or lot not on a dark side street far away. Lock your car doors. Don't leave visible items inside the car. In other words don't be a victim. You'll be fine and you'll have a good time.
A guided tour of the LCA is available by scheduling in advance on specific dates. Check the LCA tours webpage for more information on prices and scheduling.
Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster, or at the LCA box office (if not already sold out), or through a reseller like Stubhub or even Ticketmaster's Ticket Exchange. Join the mailing list and check out the Red Wings social media for short notice deals like student and military rush ticket pricing and Fan Packs. Be advised the special offers are typically for low demand games like weekdays. Friday and Saturday games especially near holidays or against Canadian teams are high demand and typically not going to have special offers. These games will most likely not have cheap seats even on the reseller market. Ticket prices for the first season of the LCA have been higher than historically at the Joe.
Joe Louis Arena is still standing but no longer being used. The Joe is designated to be torn down but that date is currently not public. You can visit the Joe at 19 Steve Yzerman Dr, Detroit, MI 48226.
I personally do not have much experience with hotels in Detroit but I know people who have stayed at the Westin Book Cadillac and the nearby Ilitch-owned Motor City Casino which also has free shuttle to the LCA or an 8 block walk. MGM Casino is also nearby with a shuttle. On the cheaper side is the Holiday Inn Express next to the Westin Book Cadillac. Check out TripAdvisor Detroit for other hotel options.
With all of the new good food options I recommend checking out a restaurant inside the LCA. Sure the food is stadium prices but there are now three full restaurants located inside the arena as well multiple food stall vendors serving a variety of tastes. The free game day program at the LCA contains a map. I am partial to The Coop. If you want a complete Ilitch experience then get a slice or whole pie of Little Caesars pizza to go or sit down at Mike’s Pizza Bar. Outside the arena I also recommend somewhere iconic such as a coney from American or Lafayette (PROTIP: Lafayette). There are many good restaurants near the LCA and beyond. Check out the /detroit sidebar for more Detroit restaurant suggestions in and around the city. Popular spots include Hockeytown Cafe and flaming cheese in Greektown.
Harry’s Bar and Temple Bar are neighborhood bars that are within a 2 block walking distance to the LCA if you want to drink and hangout with fans before or after. The Chevy Plaza outside the southwest corner of the LCA has beer stands. The /detroit sidebar has more bar suggestions in and around the city. PROTIP: take the QLINE streetcar (US$1.50/3 hours) to the Canfield stop and quaff a few brews over crack fries at HopCat then take the QLINE south 2 stops (10 blocks) to the LCA stop at Sproat St. Be advised the northbound QLINE LCA stop is Adelaide St.
For convenience, park at the LCA VIP parking structure. It may be pricier (US$40 as of 2017-11-09) but it is a comfortable sheltered stroll to the LCA. If you are up for a short walk and would like to save a buck park at the MGM Casino or Motor City Casino for free. From there you can walk 8 blocks or take their free shuttle. The further away you park from the LCA the cheaper it is. There are several surface lots and structures nearby, some let you pay in advance. Some bars also have shuttles for free or a couple bucks. PROTIP: Nemo's has the best shuttle drivers. Regardless, remember where you parked, how you got to the LCA.
Coming from Canada? There is a Windsor tunnel bus US/CAN$5.00 each way from the bus terminal downtown Windsor (Chatham and Church) to Cass Ave. and the I-75 service drive next to the LCA. Getting through immigration takes a few minutes. Have your passport and don't be drunk. Check the link above for service times and details.
The LCA doors open 1.5 hours before game start. There are four sets of doors one at each corner. The Chevy Plaza at the southwest corner has a large screen that shows pre-game hype videos and on occasion the live game. There are also beebeverage stands in the plaza as well as picnic games (e.g. corn hole). You will have to pass through security to enter the Chevy Plaza but no ticket scan until you enter the arena doors.
You can sort of watch the players arrive by car (and visitors by bus) into the parking structure off Clifford north of the I-75 service drive.
The best photos of the LCA exterior are from the east side of Woodward just north of the westbound I-75 service drive looking at the building from the southeast corner. Photo
Will Call tickets at the box office located at the northeast corner of the arena off Woodward Ave.
There is a strict bag size policy enforced at the door. I’ve seen some upset people turned away at the doors. Know before you go.
You will have to go through a metal detector and may be subject to extra screening to enter the LCA.
Free WIFI is available inside as well as outside of the arena.
There are free programs inside the LCA at the entrances. Grab one because it has an arena map with section numbers and vendor locations. Sometimes there are interesting articles too.
There is souvenir shop called the Team Store in the southwest corner of the LCA. The authentic signed gear and memorabilia located in the east end of the store. There are also vendors scattered around the via and upper concourse selling souvenirs. PROTIP: the LCA prices are high for swag. Buy your gear ahead of time online or at Detroit Athletic in Detroit or Hockeytown Authentics up in Troy.
Friendly ushers are everywhere to help out and answer your questions. Most will take your photo for you if you ask politely.
There are local Detroit and Michigan craft beer vendors scattered around the arena priced at around US$10. Check the map in the free program for locations.
During warmups, fans congregate around the glass. Players come out at 30 minutes before game time for warmups. PROTIP: I recommend watching the Red Wings shoot at the net during warmups from behind the net on the glass in section 102/103. Hearing the puck smack the glass inches from your face is neat. Same for aisle for 115/116 on the visiting team side behind the net. The ushers will let you down to the ice level for warmups even if you don’t have tickets in that section.
The sea of banners is gone but the retired jerseys and Stanley Cup Championship banners remain. They are not the originals (those are hanging in the practice rink below the main rink) but are retractable. The banners share the ceiling with the Pistons banners on the other side. PROTIP: The best photo op for the Red Wing banners is in front of the Fox Sports Detroit broadcast desk at the top of section 219. Say hi to Keats for me.
There is a nice mix of old and new artwork in the LCA. Take some time before the game to walk around the lower and upper level concourses to see the manholes, the Howe/Lindsey/Delvecchio statues from the Joe, the original Olympia sign, murals of Red Wing greats. Look for the Red Wing logo at the northeast corner lower concourse made of auto parts. There are multiple selfie and photo spots too like the Red Wings bench and Little Caesars spear. The LCA is shared with the Detroit Pistons basketball team so you will see artwork and displays featuring their greats as well.
Every seat at the LCA has a great view of the ice. Some seats in the upper level (rows 6 and above between the red lines) have obstructed views of the center ice score board but there displays mounted behind the gondolas. The layout of the seats are steep and from the ice it looks like the stands are stacked on top of you. Sections, rows, and seats are on your ticket but navigation is based on portals. Check your ticket for your portal, go to that, then find your section/row/seat. Sit in your own seat. If you see seats that are still empty well into the first period then move to them. If someone asks you to move out of their seat just do it. Explore the arena to check out different seat views. PROTIP: go up to portals 78-82 to check out the vertigo inducing view down from the gondola.
Get to your seat 10 minutes before puck drop to see the pre-game on the huge scoreboard and on-ice projection.
The LCA now has a legit organ with in-house organists. They're pretty entertaining. Check it out the upper concourse behind section 301.
Don't be disrespectful during the national anthem(s). Just stand politely and shut up. Some visitors don't understand how disrespectful they can be. It's like 2 minutes, put the phone down.
Most Red Wings fans are friendly people and quite knowledgeable about their team and the sport. Strike up a conversation and you'll probably learn something new.
Cheer for your visiting team but don't be a dick about it.
DO NOT STAND UP OUT OF YOUR SEAT WHILE THE PUCK IS IN PLAY.
The LCA has a strict no smoking policy. There is no smoking area outside of any door. If you leave the LCA to smoke you will not be readmitted.
We know the goal horn recording sucks. We've already told the Red Wings organization about it. They know. They're working on it.
There are a lot of restrooms in the LCA. I haven’t see any long lines like the Joe had. Sadly(?) there are no urinal troughs in the men’s rooms.
Don't leave early! If the Red Wings win the DJ will play Don't Stop Believing in the final seconds or right after the game ends for you and thousands of your friends to sing along. The arena DJ plays music from multiple genres from Motown to country to pop and is known to take suggestions. He can be reached on Twitter @thehockeyjockey.
There is no public accessible spot for athlete autographs. The best opportunity for autographs is an event created for that purpose such as the Season Ticket Holder Open House, Fan Day Open House, or charity events like Toast of Hockeytown, Charity Poker Tournaments, as well as autograph signing events posted at https://www.facebook.com/DRWautographs/.
Post-game ride share pickups are along the I-75 service drive south of the LCA. Shuttles will pick you up where they dropped you off.
Have fun and enjoy the game!
Edit 1: typos and ride share info Edit 2: photo spot location and photo
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