(DETROIT, MI) – Fans, players, and staff alike paid their respects to Joe Louis Arena yesterday as the final NHL game ever was played in front of 20,027 patrons. The 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils belied the final season at The Joe for the Detroit Red Wings.
After 37 years at the often maligned arena, the Wings will miss the playoffs for the first time in 25 years; a full decade after moving into the building in 1979 with a a 3-2 loss to St Louis. Back then, Detroit mayor Coleman Young financed the construction of Joe Louis Area for then owner Bruce Norris. Through the use of bonds, the city of Detroit put forward $57 million; the equivalent of $191 million today.
The location of the arena was also a sore point for fans and the city of Detroit. Squeezed into a plot of land between the Lodge Freeway, the Detroit River, and Cobo Hall, there wasn’t much benefit to the surrounding neighbourhood in terms of development.
After 936 victories and four Stanley Cup Championships, the Red Wings will move into Little Caesars Arena in the news entertainment district along Woodward Avenue. Located in the vicinity of Ford Field and Comerica Park, the new arena is being built for an outlay of $732 million. The Red Wings will share the facility with the Detroit Pistons basketball franchise, which is playing its last game at the Palace of Auburn Hills tonight.
The new arena is part of a $2 billion project will will include commercial and residential development, while The Joe faces a date with the wrecking ball.