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Best of 2017, #2: The Opening of Little Caesars Arena

Little Caesars Arena

We end 2017 with a countdown of the 10 biggest stories of the year on Arena Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #2: Little Caesars Arena opens for the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Pistons.

A new era has begun in Detroit. Now that Little Caesars Arena has opened, the Pistons and Red Wings are playing under the same roof in the city’s downtown.

Planning for Little Caesars Arena had unfolded over the last several years, effectively building anticipation for its 2017 debut. The arena was initially slated for the Red Wings, but the Pistons announced in November 2016 that they had reached a pending agreement to move into venue by the start of the 2017-18 NBA season.

For a good portion of 2017, the Pistons worked to finalize the details of their move to Little Caesars Arena. While a legal challenge threatened the allocation of public funds to complete basketball-specific upgrades at the venue, it would eventually be dismissed. The NBA Board of Governors later voiced its support for the Pistons’ move by approving the team’s shift to Little Caesars Arena with a unanimous vote.

That set the stage for the debut of Little Caesars Arena. After initially opening for concerts, the venue hosted its first pre-season games for the Red Wings and Pistons before both teams made their regular-season debuts in October. The Red Wings’ October 5 debut resulted in a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild, while the Pistons’ first regular-season game at Little Caesars Arena was played on October 18, when they defeated the Charlotte Hornets 102-90.

One of the most significant developments relating to the arena, however, involved the entertainment aspect of the facility. In October, Olympia Entertainment and Palace Sports & Entertainment—parent companies of the Red Wings and Pistons, respectively—announced the formation of 313 Presents. The new joint venture will oversee events at several Detroit-area venues, including Little Caesars Arena, Comerica Park (home to MLB’s Detroit Tigers), DTE Energy Music Theatre, Fox Theatre, Meadow Brook Amphitheatre, and Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre at Freedom Hill.

Over time, Little Caesars Arena’s place in the NBA and NHL will be more realized. All-Star Games for both sports could be in the offing, and District Detroit—a mixed-use neighborhood planned for the surrounding area—could provide a wide array of amenities around Little Caesars Arena if it comes to fruition as expected. In the meantime, however, the arena’s arrival has marked a significant step for the Pistons and Red Wings, and has helped boost the Detroit sports and entertainment landscape.

Previously in our Top Ten Stories of 2017 List:

#3: Vivint Smart Home Arena Renovations
#4: Target Center Upgrades
#5: New York Islanders Win Belmont Park Bid
#6: Philips Arena Renovations Begin
#7: Calgary Flames’ Arena Pursuit Stalls
#8: Carolina Hurricanes Move Closer to Sale
#9: NBA G League Continues to Grow
#10: Colorado Eagles to Join AHL

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