Step inside one of the 60 new private suites inside Little Caesars Arena, and you may wonder if you’ve stepped into a sleek lodge instead.
Faux leather seats and loveseats in what almost looks like a small living room offer a quiet place for private conversations. A gas fireplace mounted to the wall warms up the space on a crisp fall day. Nearby, a large island with quartz counters beckons guests to come sit down and have a bite to eat.
The suite life is indeed sweet at the new Little Caesars Arena. The 600-square-foot suites are not only bigger and more open than the previous ones at Joe Louis Arena and The Palace of Auburn Hills, they’re also more automated, with iPads mounted on the wall just inside the door of each suite. They control everything from dimming the lights to taking menu orders.
“It’s so easy, even I can do it,” laughed Tom Wilson, president and CEO of Olympia Entertainment at the Detroit Red Wings, dragging his finger across one of the iPads.
Designed by the architecture firm HOK, the suites reflect months of research of other arenas across the country. Suiteholders at The Joe and Palace also were surveyed about what they did and didn’t like. Size was one of the biggest issues. They are two times larger than the ones at the other venues.
“We’ve had 30 in here, and you’re not elbow to elbow with anyone,” Wilson said. “And once people start sitting down, you’ve got nothing but room.”
Along with a fireplace, they also have five flat-screen TVs mounted to one wall, induction heating for catered meals and wall-mounted cabinets for coats and purses.
One noticeable feature missing from the new suites is the doors that once divided the arena seating from the rest of the suite. Now it’s all one open area, flowing from front to back.
“When we designed the ones at The Palace, the idea was when your kids were out here watching *NSYNC back in the day and you didn’t want to hear *NSYNC, you could close the doors,” Wilson said. “The reality is there are very, very few *NSYNCs and a lot more Billy Joels and Elton Johns. ... By taking them (the doors) off, the suite feels much, much bigger.”
Wilson said they also wanted to create spaces that could also be used for a small business meeting when there isn’t a game or concert. All of the TVs are wired for PowerPoint presentations.
Aside from the suites, there are also 22 Loge boxes, smaller private seating areas that seat four to six people along with a small kitchen area and coat closet. There also are several club areas, such as the Legends Clubs for which ticketholders can pay more.
Inside the Legends Club, wood beams shaped in an upside down “V” stretch across the ceiling with the names of Red Wings players who were inducted into the Hall of Fame along with the year they were inducted. Also, large pictures of iconic Detroit athletes, such as Nicklas Lidstrom and Bill Laimbeer, cover walls.
Businesses are responding to the suites. All 60 sold out in 40 days for Red Wings games and concerts, much faster than expected. Sales for Detroit Pistons games are ongoing.
Wilson said businesses want to be a part of the burgeoning downtown and what Little Caesars Arena represents.
“This is the connective tissue between Midtown and downtown,” Wilson said.