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Little Caesars Arena’s new seats are a black eye for Red Wings

If you build it, they will come, supposedly.

NHL: Preseason-Pittsburgh Penguins at Detroit Red Wings Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

It was designed to be “The Baddest Bowl in Hockey” and was finished at the cost of nearly $863 million, just a mere $400 million more than it’s original expected price tag. Now, thirteen months after it’s grand opening to the public, the powers that be are having a difficult time filling the seats at both Red Wings and Pistons games alike.

And their solution to the problem? Cover the originally accepted red lower-bowl seats with black fabric covers until permanent ones can be installed later this year. If you’ve watched a Red Wings game since the team relocated across town from the beloved Joe Louis Arena last season, it’s not hard to deduce that people are not filling the seats at the state of the art new facility, which is undoubtedly the catalyst for the new seats/covers, even if those involved aren’t going to openly admit it:

“We evaluated every aspect of arena operations during the inaugural year, and after numerous discussions with the Pistons and other stakeholders, we have made the decision to install black seats at Little Caesars Arena,” Chris Granger, Group President, Sports & Entertainment, Ilitch Holdings, Inc., said in a statement.

This change is also made with support and input from industry-leading concert promoters and our television partners at Fox Sports Detroit.

It’s easy enough to read between the PR lines as to the reasoning behind the move, but at the same time, it still kind of stings. Let’s face it, the vibrant, in your face, all red interior photos we were bombarded with prior to the opening of the new arena looked fierce, loyal, and intimidating, per it’s design.

Now, we fade to black.

The most commonly uttered excuse heard to explain the empty seats over the last year has been that fans are out enjoying all the wonderful and numerous amenities that LCA has to offer. I’ve yet to make my inaugural pilgrimage to the new barn as I am not a native Michigander, and I do not doubt that are unlimited things to see, eat, drink and experience, but I don’t buy that fans are choosing to watch the game on a television in a bar rather than sit within shouting distance of the ice.

But who knows, perhaps I’m wrong in my assumption.

According to, the Wings averaged 19,515 fans per game at LCA during the 2017-18 season, a number that seems a bit high to believe, but like many lower bowls around the professional sporting world, many seats/tickets are held by corporations and companies who may not willingly attend as many games as your average blue-collar die-hard fan would given the opportunity.

It’s no secret that the cost to attend any type of sporting event isn’t within every fan’s budget, whether you’re single or part of a family unit. From parking, food and drink, souvenirs, and not to mention the ticket cost alone, it can turn into a pretty expensive night out. While LCA and the Ilitch family have devised different options for families to attend events at the arena, there may be more options to explore to try and get more fans in the seats.

One of our loyal readers here at WIIM left a pretty ingenious idea to help solve the empty seat problem in one of our recent Quick Hits:

Ultimately, when the Red Wings rebuild back to the former winning ways, the seats will get filled. Until then, empty seats are not the best for business, no matter the color.


Do you take issue with the new black seats in the lower bowl at LCA?

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    (571 votes)
  • 16%
    Not really
    (183 votes)
  • 33%
    I’ve got bigger fish to fry
    (380 votes)
1134 votes total Vote Now