Joe Louis Arena
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Joe Louis Arena
Joe Louis Arena
The Joe[1]
Joe Louis Arena.svg
Detroit December 2015 59 (Joe Louis Arena).jpg
Address19 Steve Yzerman Drive[2]
LocationDetroit, Michigan[2]
Coordinates42°19?31?N 83°3?5?W / 42.32528°N 83.05139°W / 42.32528; -83.05139Coordinates: 42°19?31?N 83°3?5?W / 42.32528°N 83.05139°W / 42.32528; -83.05139
OwnerCity of Detroit[8]
OperatorOlympia Entertainment[9]
CapacityIce hockey:
19,275 (1979-1989)
19,875 (1989-1996)
19,983 (1996-2000)
19,995 (2000-2001)
20,058 (2001-2003)
20,066 (2003-2014)
20,027 (2014-2017)[11][12][13]
Basketball: 20,153[1]
Concerts: 21,666[1]
Broke groundMay 16, 1977[3][4]
OpenedDecember 12, 1979[1][4][5]
ClosedJuly 29, 2017[6][7]
DemolishedSpring 2019 - Summer 2020
Construction costUS$57 million[4]
($203 million in 2020 dollars[10])
General contractorBarton Malow[1]
Detroit Red Wings (NHL) (1979-2017)
Detroit Pistons (NBA) (1985)
Detroit Drive (AFL) (1988-1993)
Detroit Turbos (MILL) (1989-1994)
Detroit Compuware Ambassadors (OHL) (1991-92)
Detroit Junior Red Wings (OHL) (1992-1995)
Detroit Rockers (NPSL) (1996-2000)
Inside Joe Louis Arena.
The retired numbers of former Detroit Red Wings players displayed at Joe Louis Arena.
Panorama of Joe Louis Arena in April 2008.
The Detroit Shock practice at Joe Louis Arena before Game 5 of the 2006 WNBA Finals.

Joe Louis Arena was an arena in Downtown Detroit. Completed in 1979 at a cost of US$57 million as a replacement for Olympia Stadium, it sat adjacent to Cobo Center on the bank of the Detroit River and was accessible by the Joe Louis Arena station on the Detroit People Mover. The venue was named after former heavyweight champion boxer Joe Louis, who grew up in Detroit.[1]

It was the home of the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League and the second oldest NHL venue after Madison Square Garden until the start of the 2017-18 NHL season.[14][15] Joe Louis Arena was owned by the city of Detroit, and operated by Olympia Entertainment, a subsidiary of team owner Ilitch Holdings.[8][9]

In April 2017, the Red Wings hosted their final game at Joe Louis Arena; the venue was succeeded by Little Caesars Arena. The arena closed on July 29, 2017. Demolition started in spring 2019 and was completed by late summer 2020.[6][7][16][17]


The Red Wings had been playing at Olympia Stadium since 1927. However, by the late 1970s, the neighborhood around the Olympia had gradually deteriorated, especially after the 1967 Detroit riot.[4][18] In 1977, the Red Wings announced that they would be moving to a proposed arena in suburban Pontiac.[19] However, the city of Detroit countered with a proposal for a new riverfront arena in which they would charge the Red Wings much lower rent than what Pontiac was offering. The package also gave the team operational control of the arena, nearby Cobo Arena and parking lots. The Red Wings ultimately decided to stay in Detroit proper.[20][21]

The arena hosted its first event on December 12, 1979: a college basketball game between the University of Michigan and the University of Detroit.[5] The Red Wings played their first game at Joe Louis Arena on December 27, 1979, hosting the St. Louis Blues. The game ended in a 3-2 loss for the Red Wings.[22] The Red Wings' first win at the arena came on December 30, 1979, where they defeated the New York Islanders 4-2.[23] Later that season, it hosted the 32nd NHL All-Star Game on February 5, 1980, which was played before a then-NHL record crowd of 21,002.[24] Joe Louis Arena was the site of the 1987 NHL Entry Draft, which marked the first NHL Entry Draft to be held in the United States.[15] In 1980, the arena hosted the Republican National Convention that nominated Ronald Reagan as the Republican candidate for President of the United States.[25]

The electronic scoreboard at Joe Louis Arena, during a game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Los Angeles Kings on March 9, 2007

In 1990, color matrix boards were installed on the scoreboard; these were replaced by four Sony JumboTron video walls three years later, when the matrix boards were placed in the corners of the fascia. In 2006, LED video screens replaced the JumboTrons. The screens debuted November 22, 2006, when the Red Wings played the Vancouver Canucks. That same day, the arena's West Entrance was named the "Gordie Howe Entrance" in honor of the legendary Red Wing player, and a bronze statue of Howe was placed inside the entrance. Joe Louis Arena housed 86 premium suites.[26] In 2008, the arena introduced the Comerica Bank Legend's Club, a 181-person private seating location in the arena's southeast corner.[14]

Replacement and demolition

On July 20, 2014, following the July 2013 approval of a $650 million project to build a new sports and entertainment district in Downtown Detroit,[27][28] Christopher Ilitch unveiled designs for a new arena near Comerica Park and Ford Field which was completed in 2017 and succeeded Joe Louis Arena as the home of the Red Wings.[29] On October 16, 2014, lawyers involved in the ongoing Detroit bankruptcy case disclosed in court that after demolition, which will be paid for by the city and state, the land on which the arena stands, along with an adjacent parking lot, will be transferred to the Financial Guaranty Insurance Company (FGIC), a bond insurer with a $1 billion claim against the city.[30]

The Red Wings' final game at Joe Louis Arena was played on April 9, 2017 against the New Jersey Devils. The final game at the arena also served as then Red Wings' captain Henrik Zetterberg's 1,000th game. The Red Wings won 4-1, the final goal in the arena's history coming from Red Wings forward Riley Sheahan. It was the second of two he scored, which were also the only goals he scored at all during the 2016-17 season.[31][32] The last ticketed event held was a WWE Live event, held on July 29, 2017.[6][7] Demolition of the interior of the arena started in Spring 2019, while demolition on the exterior commenced in June 2019.[33][34] Due to the arena's proximity to TCF Center, it was dismantled traditionally rather than imploded.[35][36]

Other tenants and events

In 1995, the Detroit Junior Red Wings won the Ontario Hockey League's J. Ross Robertson Cup, defeating the Guelph Storm.[37]

Joe Louis Arena hosted college hockey events as part of College Hockey at The Joe, the Great Lakes Invitational, and the Big Ten Conference hockey tournament in 2015 and 2017.[38]

The Detroit Pistons used the arena for Game 5 of their 1984 playoff series against the New York Knicks when the Pontiac Silverdome was unavailable due to a scheduling conflict.[5][39] In the game, Pistons star Isiah Thomas scored 16 points in the final 1:34 of regulation to send the game into overtime before the Pistons lost.[5][39] The Pistons were forced to return to Joe Louis Arena for 15 games during the 1984-85 season, after the roof of the Silverdome collapsed during a snowstorm.[5]

The Red Wings hosted the Stanley Cup Finals at the arena six times (1995, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2008, and 2009). Two of their four Stanley Cup championships were clinched at Joe Louis Arena in 1997 and 2002.[1][15][40] The Pittsburgh Penguins were the only visiting team to win the Stanley Cup at the Joe, taking home the trophy in 2009. It was also the only Game 7 of the Cup Finals played at the arena.[41]

Joe Louis Arena was the site of the decisive Game 5 of the 2006 WNBA Finals between the Sacramento Monarchs and Detroit Shock on September 9, due to The Palace of Auburn Hills, the Shock's usual home arena, being used for a Mariah Carey concert on the same day. The Shock won the game 80-75 to clinch the championship.[5][42]

Former Arena Football League team the Detroit Drive also had success during their time at the arena, playing in six consecutive ArenaBowls from 1988 to 1993 and winning four of them. Four of the games (ArenaBowl III, ArenaBowl IV, ArenaBowl V and ArenaBowl VII) were played at Joe Louis Arena.[42][43][44][45][46][47][48]

WWE hosted numerous shows at the arena, including the Survivor Series pay-per-view in 1991, 1999 and 2005.[49]

Joe Louis Arena hosted the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, best known for the pre-competition attack on Nancy Kerrigan by associates of Tonya Harding.[50] In addition, Joe Louis Arena was the site of the 2013 edition of the Skate America figure skating competition.[51]

On May 7, 2015, it was announced that the Horizon League Men's Basketball Tournament would be held in Detroit beginning in 2016 under a five-year deal; the 2016 and 2017 tournaments were held at Joe Louis Arena.[52]

Joe Louis Arena was also a concert venue. Until the Palace opened in 1988, Joe Louis Arena was Michigan's largest indoor arena for concerts.[53] The first concert to take place there occurred on February 17, 1980, in which Max Webster opened for the Canadian rock group Rush.[54] This venue was used for the Alice Cooper concert film The Nightmare Returns in 1986.[55] The last concert at the venue was Summer Jamz 20! on July 23, 2017.[56]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Joe Louis Arena History". Detroit Red Wings. Retrieved 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Arena Central". Detroit Red Wings. Archived from the original on July 1, 2017. Retrieved 2018.
  3. ^ "Begin Work on Stadium". The Ludington Daily News. UPI. May 17, 1977. Retrieved 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e Krupa, Greg (October 17, 2016). "The Final Period Begins for Joe Louis Arena". The Detroit News. Retrieved 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Regner, Arthur J. (March 6, 2017). "Basketball at the Joe: quality over quantity". Detroit Red Wings. Retrieved 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Durr, Matt (July 28, 2017). "Brock Lesnar wrestling in rare WWE match Saturday in Detroit". MLive. Retrieved 2018.
  7. ^ a b c Durr, Matt (July 30, 2017). "WWE superstars shine in farewell event at Joe Louis Arena". MLive. Retrieved 2018.
  8. ^ a b Reindl, JC (February 3, 2018). "Demolition countdown begins for Detroit's Joe Louis Arena". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2018.
  9. ^ a b "About Olympia Entertainment". Olympia Entertainment. Archived from the original on August 11, 2017. Retrieved 2018.
  10. ^ 1634 to 1699: Harris, P. (1996). "Inflation and Deflation in Early America, 1634-1860: Patterns of Change in the British American Economy". Social Science History. 20 (4): 469-505. JSTOR 1171338. 1700-1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How much is that in real money?: a historical price index for use as a deflator of money values in the economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800-present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800-". Retrieved 2020.
  11. ^ Detroit Red Wings 2014-15 Media Guide (PDF). National Hockey League. p. 289. Retrieved 2018.
  12. ^ Detroit Red Wings 2015-16 Media Guide (PDF). National Hockey League. p. 291. Retrieved 2018.
  13. ^ Detroit Red Wings 2016-17 Media Guide (PDF). National Hockey League. p. 294. Retrieved 2018.
  14. ^ a b Wojnowski, Bob (August 10, 2010). "Competitive Spirit Makes Mike Ilitch Perfect Fit for Pistons". The Detroit News. Archived from the original on January 21, 2013. Retrieved 2020.
  15. ^ a b c Kramer, Jon (April 7, 2017). "A Farewell to Joe Louis Arena - Stats & Info". Retrieved 2018.
  16. ^ Williams, Candice (December 18, 2018). "State approves $10M loan for Joe Louis Arena demolition". The Detroit News. Retrieved 2018.
  17. ^ Marini, Miriam (May 21, 2020). "Demolition continues at the site of Joe Louis Arena". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2020.
  18. ^ Lee, Ardelia (July 15, 2016). "A Great Arena On Grand River That's Now Gone: The Story Of Detroit's Olympia Stadium". Daily Detroit. Retrieved 2019.
  19. ^ "Red Wings Announce Move to Pontiac, Mich". The New York Times. Associated Press. April 2, 1977. Retrieved 2018.
  20. ^ Seidel, Jeff (April 6, 2017). "Joe Louis Arena: Saying good-bye to the heart of Hockeytown". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2018.
  21. ^ Henderson, Tom (September 10, 2017). "Of Olympia, Joe Louis Arena and a near-miss with history". Crain's Detroit Business. Retrieved 2018.
  22. ^ Khan, Ansar (December 26, 2009). "Red Wings Celebrate 30th Anniversary of Joe Louis Arena". MLive. Retrieved 2011.
  23. ^ "Relive first Red Wings game, Red Wings win, concert at Joe Louis Arena". Detroit Free Press. April 8, 2017. Retrieved 2018.
  24. ^ "NHL All-Star Game Historical Summaries - 1980". Retrieved 2018.
  25. ^ "Best moments in Joe Louis Arena history: No. 6". Detroit Free Press. April 2, 2017. Retrieved 2018.
  26. ^ "Joe Louis Arena". Retrieved 2011.
  27. ^ Muller, David (July 24, 2013). "$650 million Detroit Red Wings arena project clears another public financing hurdle". MLive. Retrieved 2013.
  28. ^ Shea, Bill (June 19, 2013). "DDA, Red Wings unveil $650 million arena and entertainment complex". Crain's Detroit Business. Retrieved 2013.
  29. ^ Shea, Bill (July 20, 2014). "Detroit Rink City: Ilitches' grand plan to supersize the entertainment district". Crain's Detroit Business. Retrieved 2014.
  30. ^ AlHajal, Khalil (October 16, 2014). "Detroit bankruptcy deal: Joe Louis Arena site to go to creditor for hotel development". MLive. Retrieved 2014.
  31. ^ Savage, Brendan (April 9, 2017). "Watch Red Wings' Riley Sheahan end 79-game drought with first goal". MLive. Retrieved 2017.
  32. ^ Sipple, George (April 9, 2017). "What slump? Riley Sheahan scores two goals in Joe Louis Arena finale". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2017.
  33. ^ Manzullo, Brian (May 16, 2019). "A look inside Joe Louis Arena as it's being demolished". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2020.
  34. ^ Ramirez, Charles E. (June 17, 2019). "Demo crews begin removing Joe Louis Arena's exterior panels". The Detroit News. Retrieved 2020.
  35. ^ Aguilar, Louis (March 11, 2018). "Life after the Joe: Big changes proposed for site". The Detroit News. Retrieved 2020.
  36. ^ Reindl, JC (March 4, 2019). "Joe Louis Arena demolition to start soon: Here's what's coming down". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2020.
  37. ^ "Farewell to the Joe: OHL memories abound". Ontario Hockey League. December 4, 2016. Retrieved 2018.
  38. ^ Sipple, George (September 24, 2014). "New Detroit Arena Will Be in Mix to Host Many Events". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2014.
  39. ^ a b "Best moments in Joe Louis Arena history: No. 10". Detroit Free Press. March 29, 2017. Retrieved 2018.
  40. ^ Kuc, Chris (March 8, 2017). "Ode to The Joe: Detroit's venerable Joe Louis Arena set for its last hurrah". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2018.
  41. ^ Kasan, Sam (June 12, 2019). "2009 Rewind: Stanley Cup Champions". Retrieved 2020.
  42. ^ a b "Best moments in Joe Louis Arena history: Nos. 11-20". Detroit Free Press. March 28, 2017. Retrieved 2018.
  43. ^ "ArenaBowl 88". Archived from the original on December 24, 2018. Retrieved 2021.
  44. ^ "ArenaBowl 89". Archived from the original on December 24, 2018. Retrieved 2021.
  45. ^ "ArenaBowl 90". Archived from the original on December 24, 2018. Retrieved 2021.
  46. ^ "ArenaBowl 91". Archived from the original on December 24, 2018. Retrieved 2021.
  47. ^ "ArenaBowl 92". Archived from the original on December 24, 2018. Retrieved 2021.
  48. ^ "ArenaBowl 93". Archived from the original on December 24, 2018. Retrieved 2021.
  49. ^ Raven, Benjamin (March 12, 2017). "Most memorable WWE moments at Joe Louis Arena through the years". MLive. Retrieved 2020.
  50. ^ Brand-Williams, Oralandar (October 20, 2013). "Kerrigan and Harding: Biggest story of '94 Olympics ties to The Joe". The Detroit News. Retrieved 2018.
  51. ^ "Detroit hosting 2013 Skate America at Joe Louis Arena". March 31, 2017. Retrieved 2018.
  52. ^ Paul, Tony (May 7, 2015). "Moving Horizon League tourney to Detroit is all about branding". The Detroit News. Retrieved 2015.
  53. ^ Graham, Adam (April 6, 2017). "Joe Louis Arena handled concerts like a champ". The Detroit News. Retrieved 2018.
  54. ^ Manzullo, Brian (January 19, 2017). "Here's who performed the first concert at each Detroit sports venue". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2018.
  55. ^ "ALICE COOPER: 'The Nightmare Returns' To Receive DVD Release Tomorrow". July 31, 2006. Retrieved 2020.
  56. ^ Graff, Gary (July 19, 2017). "Joe Louis ends concert history with Summer Jamz 20!". The Oakland Press. Retrieved 2015.

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