Wilson: New Red Wings arena could be hockey 'epicenter'
Detroit — Tom Wilson attended the Big Ten Hockey Media Day on Wednesday morning at Joe Louis Arena.
Wilson, the president and CEO of Olympia Entertainment, said Joe Louis Arena will play host to the Big Ten Hockey Tournament this season and in 2017 and he would love to play host to the tourney in the Red Wings' new arena in 2018 and beyond.
Wilson wants the new arena to be the "epicenter" of hockey in the near future and also be host to events such as the NCAA basketball and hockey tournaments.
"The commitment is this year and '17," Wilson said of the Big Ten Hockey Tournament. "It's here (this March 19-21), then back in Minnesota (in 2016) and back here again. We'd love to host it every year, but I'm not sure that's in the cards. It's good for us, it's good for everybody here in Detroit, but it's also great for the conference."
Wilson also plans to have the new arena play host to the Great Lakes Invitational in 2018 and beyond, as well as the annual Michigan-Michigan State game.
"Yes, long-term as long as the schools are interested," Wilson said. "We want to be sort of the epicenter of college hockey in this area. It's (Michigan-Michigan State) a friendly rivalry and we just want to be in the middle of it.
"Really, we'd like to be the epicenter of hockey down here so everything, whether if we're going for juniors, I'm sure we'll be in the hunt for the junior mix in the future now that we have a facility that can accommodate that and the locker rooms that can accommodate bigger and bigger and grander things.
"We want to be your first thought, come to Detroit, come to Detroit, come to Detroit and we'll treat you well, we'll sell a lot of tickets, we'll have great fans and have great passion for everything, and I think Michigan and Michigan State is only going to get bigger as we move into the new building. It's going to grow."
So, is the World Junior Championships a possibility for the new arena, and the Memorial Cup?
"Yes, it would be of interest," Wilson said. "We sort of have our hat in the ring for a lot of different things and I think you'll see a lot of things in 2017, 2018 when the building opens that will appear to be coming out of left field that we will be working on for the past several years. We can't talk about all of them, but we're pursuing a lot of different things."
Wilson said he has talked to Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany on the topic of hosting the Big Ten Basketball Tournament.
"I've had some discussions with him, but we've had some discussions with some of the colleges, some of the ADs and things like that so we're going to line up a conversation on that," Wilson said. "One of the big things is we have to get the building out of the ground. As the NCAA is open for bids, you have to at least have a facility that's underway so they can be sure that if they commit in 2018 that we have a place to play."