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Joe Louis Arena
Detroit, MI

NHL Arena vitals

Opened: December 12, 1979
Capacity: 20,058  seats
Team Chant: 
Draft Beer:
Hot Dog:
Arena Parking:
Joe Louis
Arena Address

600 Civic Center Drive

Detroit, MI 48226
Get Directions


Nashville Predators vs. Detroit Red Wings: April 9, 2009, 4-3 Loss
In kicking off my quest to see an NHL hockey game in every arena in the National Hockey League, I figured that no place would make a better inaugural trip than Hockey Town itself, Detroit, MI. With eleven Stanley Cups, six President’s Trophies and a solid fan base of blue collar rowdies, the city of Detroit seemed like an ideal spot to kick off my crusade.

The Joe Louis Arena downtown is an aging facility, but it’s centrally located with mass transit monorail access and plenty of parking within walking distance of the arena. Situated adjacent to the Cobo Hall Convention Center, we ended up parking in the Cobo Hall basement for $10 and walked to the arena from there. As you walk through The Joe, the ghosts of great ones are there to greet you as you enter. The main entrance is flanked with statues depicting the likeness of Detroit Hockey Town legends, Gordie Howe statue at Joe Louis Arenaincluding Gordy Howe and Ted Lindsay. Joe Louis Arena is a great venue within which to watch some premiere NHL Hockey with a solid local tradition for excellence on the ice. As you enter through the red curtains into the seating areas, the amount of banners hanging from the rafters is intimidating. The bar for success is obviously set extremely high, as year after year the Detroit Red Wings respond with a solid effort that takes them deep into the playoffs. The crowd is one of the better NHL crowds in the league as well. Noise levels and spirits are soar throughout the game as the crowd becomes a large part of the effort down on the ice. Joe Louis Arena has the standard concessions you’ll see at most arenas, but scattered throughout the main concourse are several local spots serving up exceptional sandwiches and other local eats. Mixed drinks and microbrews are also available from certain concessions stands.

Joe Louis Statue on the Frozen Pond PilgrimageOne of the more unique traditions in NHL Hockey is the throwing of the Octopus onto the ice at Red Wings Games. This tradition actually predates Joe Louis Arena, originating in the old Olympia Stadium, but it soon became the calling card of the Red Wings rally. The Octopus first made its appearance on April 15, 1952 during the Red Wings Stanley cup run back when only eight wins were required to secure Lord Stanley’s Cup. The eight octopus tentacles were supposedly symbolic of these eight wins, making for a rather slimy, but unique hockey tradition. That year the Red Wings swept their opponent in the semi-finals and then again in the finals, cementing the legacy of the octopus as a symbol of good fortune in the Motor City. This first octopus was thrown onto the ice by local fish market owner Peter Cusimano. Since then, a certain etiquette has developed around the tradition. The Octopus are usually boiled before hand. This reduces the slimy exterior, making cleanup of the ice surface easier, and lessens the odor, making it easier to sneak the cephalopod through security. Fans will sneak Hans Steiniger at Joe Louis Arenathem in wrapped around their bellies in trash bags and when the time comes, usually after the national anthem or after the Red Wings score a goal, the crowd stands to shroud the thrower and the octopus makes its appearance on the ice. Al Sobotka, the head ice manager at Joe Louis Arena is responsible for removing the creatures from the ice surface. Traditionally, Al twirls the octopus over his head as he exits the ice surface, appeasing the raucous crowd and inspiring the Wings to certain victory. Unfortunately there was no octopus out on the ice at the game we attended but the tradition itself is pretty incredible.

The Detroit Red Wings have been on a tear as of late as they began gearing up for the NHL Playoffs. Tonight’s contest was a potential preview of their next playoff opponent as the Red Wings took on the Nashville Predators. The Wings charged out of the gates to an early lead, until the third period when Nashville closed the 3-1 deficit to 3-2 and then with less than 90 seconds in the final period, Nashville tied the game. The overtime period finished without another goal, which brought about Stanley Cup Banners at Joe Louis Arena in Detroitmy favorite rule change of the new era of NHL hockey, the shoot out. To me the shoot out is the most exciting part of the game. With each shot the crowd rises to its feet to watch as two players match wits with the game on the line. Lots of cheering, lots of action, great saves, great goals … everything you want in a hockey game. This is, of course, unless your team comes out on the losing end of things, which unfortunately was the fate of our Detroit Red Wings as they fell 4-3 to the Nashville Predators. So although my inaugural mission resulted in a tough loss, I thoroughly enjoyed the intensity of the Hockey Town fans and look forward to watching another extended Stanley Cup Playoff run by the Detroit Red Wings.

For more information on the City of Detroit, Michigan, check out my other reviews by clicking on the links below:     
     NHL: Joe Louis Arena, Detroit Red Wings - General Information
     NBA: Detroit Pistons, Palace of Auburn Hills - General Information
     NFL: October 11, 2009 - Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Detroit Lions  
     NFL: October 26, 2008 - Washington Redskins vs. Detroit Lions
     NFL: October 15, 2006 - Buffalo Bills vs. Detroit Lions     

city of Detroit local information

Top Tourist Attractions:
Henry Ford Museum / Greenfield Village
Motown Records Historical Museum

Local Foods:
National Coney Island Hot Dogs, Michigan Cherry Salad, Middle Eastern Cuisine, Pasties, Mackinac Island Fudge, Sanders Bumpy Cake

What They're Drinkin':
Miller Lite, Bud Lite, Bell's Oberon Ale

Fan Resources:
Pocket Map of Detroit
Arena Policy
Arena Parking Map

Local Sports Media:
Detroit Free Press
Detroit News
97.1FM The Ticket
Popular Bar Districts:
Downtown (Old Shillelagh, Detroit Pub, Town Pump Tavern,
     Foran's, Centaur, Cliff Bell's)
Royal Oak (Luna, Royal Oak Brewery, Gusoline Alley, Mr. B's)
Pontiac (Liberty Bar, Green Tavern, Sevin Night Club, Tonic,
     Tiki Bobs, JD's Key Club, Mill Street Grill)
Mount Clemens (Emerald, The Bank, Orleans, Your Mother's)

Best Restaurants:
Hockey Town Cafe (Sports Bar & Food)
Bad Brad's BBQ (Best BBQ in the City)
Fishbones (Creole, Cajun)
Pegasus Taverna (Greek)
Bangkok Cuisine (Thai Food)

Where To Stay:
Detroit’s downtown area is filled with museums, waterfront, history and an excellent nightlife. Be sure to stay downtown and stay central to the action. I would suggest staying at the Ramada Inn Downtown Detroit or the Crowne Plaza Hotel Pontchartrain Detroit. The Westin Cadillac and the Holiday Inn Express are also both excellent hotel choices.

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