Rod Beard and Ted Kulfan take a tour of the new Little Caesars Arena.
Detroit — Life is changing for the Red Wings.
At Joe Louis Arena, the team didn’t have the advantages that some of the newer arenas around North America afforded other NHL teams.
That isn’t the case anymore.
Moving into Little Caesars Arena, the Red Wings are skating into a state-of-the-art facility that puts them on par or better than the rest of the league.
The locker room is bigger, there’s a massive weight room, and there will be no more driving to Grosse Pointe or Taylor or Troy for practice if there is a concert at Little Caesars Arena. The Wings now have their own practice rink on-site.
“You never have to leave,” Tom Wilson, president and chief executive officer of Olympia Entertainment, said Wednesday during a media tour of Little Caesars Arena. “Turn left (out of the locker room) and you go to the practice rink. Turn right and you go the real rink.
“Everything is here.”
The LCA locker room area is a massive improvement. At Joe Louis Arena, the Red Wings had one of the smaller home locker rooms in the NHL.
Now they’re moving into a locker room area that is approximately 23,000 square feet – they had around 7,000 at Joe Louis Arena – with all the updates common in many of the newer arenas.
“We’ve got an enormous weight room, an enormous hydrotherapy room, a huge players’ lounge,” Wilson said. “The whole point is to maximize the talent you have.”
In the players’ lounge, there’s a spacious kitchen where meals can be served all day.
“It can take care of your breakfast, lunch and, if you’re here, dinner, with the right kinds of food,” Wilson said. “You might cheat a little bit on the road or when you go home, but we’ll give you a head start on nutrition.
“You want to maximize your talent and be the best player you can be. We didn’t have anything like this at Joe Louis. We didn’t have the equipment, didn’t have the weight room, now we have the best.”
As for the practice rink, it also will be used by Little Caesars youth teams. But for the Red Wings, it eliminates the need for lugging equipment and making the journey to an area rink when the main rink is being used for a concert or any other event.
“This is a big step up,” Wilson said.
The practice rink will host games and tournaments, as there is a seating area, locker rooms, and a weight room. There are also classrooms for players in the Little Caesars program.
“It’s the closest thing to the NHL you can get at 12 years old,” Wilson said.
Wilson said Olympia employees traveled to numerous arenas around North America to identify the best aspects of each.
“We were able to take the best of the best in the country and put them here, mix in so many different innovations,” Wilson said. “It’ll be the best in the country, and it’ll be in Detroit.”
The Wings christen LCA on Sept. 23 with an exhibition game against Boston.