Little Caesars Arena seats getting transformation from red to black

Rod Beard Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Black seats will become a permanent fixture at Little Caesars Arena.

Detroit — Little Caesars Arena is getting the red out. Well, sort of.

After an inaugural season with many complaints about the bright red seats, especially in the lower bowl, during Detroit Pistons and Red Wings games, there’s going to be a change.

There will be permanent black seats installed at Little Caesars Arena, beginning in December and continuing for “a multi-month process,” according to a release. In the interim, the lower-bowl seats will have black seat covers, similar to last season, when Art Van Furniture sponsored covers for most of the areas in the lower bowl.

The project will not affect any concert events or Pistons or Red Wings games, as the work will be done during non-event times.

“We evaluated every aspect of arena operations during the inaugural year and after numerous discussions with the Pistons and other stakeholders, we have made the decision to install black seats at Little Caesars Arena,” said Chris Granger, group president of Sports & Entertainment for Ilitch Holdings, which owns the arena.

“When the Pistons agreed to move to downtown Detroit and play their home games at Little Caesars Arena, many design features were either finalized or already in production.

This photo of the lower bowl at Little Caesars Arena was taken midway through the third period during the Red Wings' game against the Coyotes on Oct. 31.

"We very much value our partnership with the Pistons organization and have made this decision together.”

The main frame of the seats will not be new, but workers will install new vinyl black exterior and foam interiors, according to an Olympia Entertainment spokesperson. The discarded exterior and interior will be recycled, in conjunction with Sterling Heights-based Green For Life Environmental Inc.

The red seats became a public-relations nightmare for Red Wings and Pistons officials last season, serving as unwanted spotlights for empty seats. Olympia officials initially tried to explain away the empty seats by saying fans were simply in the concourses and elsewhere in the building, checking out the new digs. But that excuse became less and less convincing as the seasons — both rough ones, record-wise — went along, and the number of empty red seats seemed only to increase.

The cost of replacement will be 100-percent privately funded, a spokesperson said.

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard

Twitter: @tonypaul1984