Top Menu

Update on Former Detroit-Area Arenas

Joe Louis Arena

Little Caesars Arena will soon begin hosting NBA and NHL games, meaning that two other Detroit-area arenas could eventually meet their demises. 

To move to the new venue in downtown Detroit, the NBA’s Pistons will relocate from the Palace of Auburn Hills, while the NHL’s Red Wings are shifting from Joe Louis Arena. Joe Louis Arena (above) hosted its last ticketed event–WWE Live SummerSlam Heatwave Tour–in July, and plans have been in place for the site to be redeveloped.

Holdout creditor Financial Guaranty Insurance Corp. (FGIC) is assuming development rights for the site, and a previously-approved settlement provides the framework for the site’s future. As a result, Joe Louis Arena is expected to be demolished to make way for a development that will feature a hotel of at least 300 rooms, plus a slate of amenities that includes recreation space, retail, offices, and residences.

The demolition of Joe Louis Arena has been expected to take place at some point this year, but the infrastructure around the site presents challenges for developers. More from Crain’s Detroit Business:

Maurice Cox, the city’s planning director, called the web of infrastructure — freeways, skywalks and access ramps — surrounding the Joe Louis Arena a daunting facet to navigate.

“It has an absolutely wicked entanglement of infrastructure that makes the development site challenging to access,” he said. “Whether a hotel could ever survive on what is effectively the service side of a convention center is a question that will be answered first and foremost by an understanding of what degree of access you can give the site.”

That’s part of what his team and others have been studying in recent months, although no decision has been made. Any modification to the plans stipulated in FGIC’s settlement with the city would have to be approved by the bankruptcy court.

It is expected to be demolished this year under terms of the settlement agreement, but a specific date has not been set.

As for the Palace, there is no firm plan in place for the future of that arena’s site. A Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band concert scheduled for September 23 is currently the last event on the books, though the Pistons are expected to continue using a practice facility and administrative offices at the site until their new downtown Detroit headquarters opens.

The Auburn Hills City Council has already authorized zoning changes that would allow the Palace of Auburn Hills property to be utilized for technology or research uses. Arena owner Palace Sports & Entertainment says that it has not made a final decision on what will come next for the venue, but some anticipate that the site will receive demand if redevelopment opportunities surface. More from Crain’s Detroit Business:

“Auburn Hills is a sought-after address for many high-tech companies,” Mayor Kevin McDaniel said in a statement last month after PS&E announced that the Palace would close. “We have been very proactive, knowing that Auburn Hills is in high demand for companies involved in research and development.”

Ryan Dembs, president and CEO of Farmington Hills-based real estate development company Dembs Development Inc., which has completed several projects in Auburn Hills, said that if The Palace is demolished, the site could feasibly be filled with new buildings in five years.

“It lends itself to some bigger, headquarters-type facilities, perhaps some distribution,” Dembs said.

The Pistons began play at the Palace in 1988, and hosted their final game at the venue in April. The team’s move to Little Caesars Arena received approval from the NBA this summer.

RELATED STORIES: NBA Approves Detroit Pistons’ Move to Little Caesars ArenaJoe Louis Arena Goes Out with a BangJoe Louis Arena’s Final Act

, , , , , , ,