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Reaction mixed to Kid Rock concerts at new arena

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Kid Rock is set to kick off a new era in Detroit concertgoing when he opens Little Caesars Arena with four shows in September, an announcement that was met with mixed reaction from hometown music lovers on Thursday.

Some fans groused about what was perceived as a predictable announcement, as the multi-platinum rocker was heavily favored to be the opening night artist.

Others complained about Rock’s past use of the Confederate flag and his current support of President-elect Donald Trump. Last month, Rock released a new line of merchandise with slogans such as “God Guns & Trump” and other phrases too colorful for a family newspaper.

Sam Riddle, political director of the National Action Network Michigan Chapter, has tussled with Rock in the past over his use of the Confederate Flag, and sees issue with the Ilitch family letting Rock open the new space, given the flag’s historical symbol of racism.

“I’m not against Kid Rock performing, per se, it’s just that this is the wrong opening act for the new arena,” Riddle said Thursday.

Others greeted the news more openly.

“Excited to hear about @KidRock opening #LittleCaesarsArena!! Hope we’re in town!” Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander tweeted on Thursday, using the hashtag “#DetroitProud.” (The Tigers are in Cleveland during Rock’s first two concerts, on Sept. 12 and 13, but host the Chicago White Sox at home during the second two shows, on Sept. 15 and 16.)

Tickets for all four concerts, $20, $35, $55 and $75, go on sale at 10 a.m. Jan 27.

Rock made the announcement during a press event Thursday inside the construction space at the new building. He entered the press conference by walking across the arena’s dirt floor and toward the media gathered at the building’s north end, and he thanked the workers gathered around the space, who paused their work while Rock spoke.

“I know you’re working hard to get this done in time so we can come in here, open this place up, and rock it,” Rock said.

Rock was introduced by Ilitch Holdings President and CEO Christopher Ilitch, who called Rock “a worldwide star and Detroit icon.” Red Wing Henrik Zetterberg and ex-Piston Rick Mahorn were also on hand for the announcement.

Rock, who turned 46 this week, is finishing his new album in Nashville and plans to have it out by September’s concerts, he said.

The shows will mark Rock’s first Detroit concerts since he performed a record-breaking string of 10 sold-out concerts in 2015 at Clarkston’s DTE Energy Music Theatre, playing to 150,000 fans over the course of three weeks.

Rock and his production crew acted as consultants on the design of the new arena, arena officials said.

The shows will mark Rock’s first local concerts since he performed a record-breaking string of 10 concerts at DTE Energy Music Theatre in summer 2015. He performed eight shows at the Clarkston amphitheatre in 2013.

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama

Kid Rock

Sept. 12, 13, 15, 16

Little Caesars Arena

Tickets, $20, $35, $55 and $75, on sale 10 a.m. Jan. 27 at OlympiaEntertainment.com, LiveNation.com, Ticketmaster.com, the Fox Theatre and Joe Louis Arena box offices, Hockeytown Authentics in Troy or by phone at (800) 745-3000