Hockey Haven

The new $650 million Red Wings arena and entertainment district vows to dazzle Detroit.


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The arena design itself has elements that appear to make it a first of its kind. It includes a walkway adjacent to the arena known as Via, which will be a glass-covered atrium containing retail spaces; it will be open to the public 24/7, regardless of whether an hockey game or other event is happening at the arena.

“Even when there isn’t an event, this will be like a pedestrian street that will allow first-floor retail to have a Woodward side and to have a Via side, and it’s a place where people can come and gather,” says Steve Marquardt, project leader for Olympia Development.

On the other side of the arena will be a public square that can be used for live musical performances or other types of events. It will include a very large video screen that could show anything from an afternoon Tigers game to the world championship of an event halfway around the world. The goal is to encourage people to congregate.

If you’re interested in one of the arena’s luxury boxes, there are 52 of them. Forty boxes are already spoken for — and that’s for every event the arena holds, for a cool $275,000 a year. Each suite has a fireplace and seats 30 in its 600-square-foot space. Each suite also contains five flat-screen TVs, so if you want to catch the Tigers, Pistons, Lions, or Family Feud — or all of the above — while the Wings are playing, the units are at your service.

The arena descends 40 feet below ground level, so the Wings will take to the ice considerably below the surface — and their practice arena is below that. All of this was designed to allow for a first-class arena that doesn’t tower so far above the rest of the neighboring buildings and blends in with the zone rather than seem out of place. Then again, that’s the whole idea of District Detroit. The arena is just the catalyst for what Olympia developers hope will be a complete transformation of the area.

Those who have been waiting for such a renovation have liked what they’ve seen in the year since the project broke ground.

“I’ve been incredibly impressed by the thoughtfulness of how they’re doing the boundaries and the edges and the connections,” says Bob Kraemer, principal of Detroit-based Kraemer Design Group. “Streetworks (a designer) is recognizing that as I-75 cuts across the north side of Comerica Park it fundamentally creates a barrier, and there’s been a lot of effort in looking at how you can cross that barrier.”

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