The recent announcement that Mike Ilitch, owner of the Tigers and Red Wings, intends to buy the Detroit Pistons has sparked a lot of talk amongst the Detroit community lately. First and foremost, Ilitch's role in the sale of the Pistons has led to much speculation that his real motive for buying the team is so he can build a new arena, then move both the Red Wings and Pistons into the new place.
It's also brought up the not-so-new idea of the Red Wings temporarily abandoning Joe Louis Arena for a part-time stay at the Palace of Auburn Hills while the new arena is built. It's been made pretty clear that Ilitch wants a new arena whether he gets the Pistons or not, but having two indoor teams would certainly help his pitch to the city.
So with all the new rumors swirling around Detroit, I thought we'd take a look at our two oldest arenas. The Palace and The Joe were built just nine years apart, but they sport two drastically different looks.
JOE LOUIS ARENA
The best phrase I would use to describe the Joe would be "concrete box." Built at the end of the 1970s to replace the old Olympia, the Joe certainly wasn't revolutionary for it's time. JLA definitely has the feel of an old school arena; you feel like you're right on top of the action no matter where you sit.
As was the complaint with many of the older stadiums, there is simply no space at the Joe. The concourse gets packed even on nights when there's a less than capacity crowd. The seats are almost on top of each other, and the narrow, steep section stairs are like a death trap waiting to happen. Getting into the Joe itself is no easy task either; there's only two entrances, both of which feature huge, steep concrete steps that make you feel like "Rocky" every time you climb them.
The worst part about the Joe? The bathrooms. Just ask any guy that's ever had to answer nature's call at JLA.
THE PALACE OF AUBURN HILLS
Capacity: 22,076(basketball) 20,804 (hockey)
Nearly a decade after Joe Louis opened its doors, William Davidson built the $70 million Palace in the suburb of Auburn Hills, all out of private funding. The Palace was considered the first of the modern arenas, sporting 180 luxury suites when it opened, outlandish for its time. But as the years went on, many stadiums have followed in the footsteps of the Palace of Auburn Hills.
When you step inside the Palace, you don't feel like it's a 22-year old building. The place looks like it was built last week. There's so much more space at the Palace compared to the Joe it feels like sitting in an open field to a Red Wings fan. But, the drawback to more space is that you're also farther away from the action, unlike the experience at JLA.
Looking at the Joe, it's no wonder William Davidson turned down the chance to share the arena with the Red Wings back in 1979. He probably took one look at the bathrooms and said "You want me to go in THERE?" The Joe gives you a great game experience, but it lacks so many other commodities that other arenas now offer.
With Ilitch now in the running to buy the Pistons, moving to the Palace could become a real possibility, even if the city doesn't immediately approve of a new arena. The Palace certainly doesn't need to be replaced and is more than capable of hosting a hockey team.
With that in mind, which venue would you prefer the Red Wings to play in?