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    Goodbye Joe Louis Arena, Hello Memorabilia Signs and Seats
    Featured image by jpower65 via Flickr

    Joe Louis Arena has been an important fixture in Detroit since it was completed in 1979. It was home to the Red Wings for 38 seasons, hosting six Stanley Cup finals (including two that the team won in 1997 and 2002). Its unique tunnel structures can be seen by drivers on M-10, the Lodge Freeway.

    The rink has been a topic of discussion recently. Since Little Caesars Arena opened in Midtown and has been hosting the Red Wings, the plans for Joe Louis Arena have slowly been revealed. But in recent news, the property managers are giving fans pieces to hold on to before they say goodbye to their beloved arena.

    Joe Louis Arena driver's perspective

    Joe Louis Arena from a driver’s perspective. (Image by jpower65 via Flickr)

    The First Plans for Joe Louis Arena

    It’s important to know that, when the city filed Chapter 9 in 2013-14, they had to find a way to limit the amount of debt they were carrying. They made a deal with a former bondholder: If they agreed to take on the related financial losses the property was facing at that time, the city would grant them future development rights.

    Because the arena’s lease is finally up, Financial Guaranty Insurance Co. (the bondholder), is now able to begin their plans. As we mentioned in our previous article about West Jefferson, they will eventually demolish Joe Louis Arena and build a hotel on the five acres it currently occupies.

    But before this happens, the owners are doing a bit of belated “spring cleaning.”

    Take a Seat

    During the month of May, Miedema Asset Management Group, Inc. and Robert Levy Associates have been selling parts of the arena to “offset the city’s cost of maintaining the arena, particularly utility and security costs.” Instead of simply selling things for scraps, they decided to offer Red Wings fans a chance to keep mementos from the arena.

    On May 1st, season ticketholders, sponsors, and suite holders were offered the chance to buy actual arena seats, and on May 12th, the sale opened to the public.

    According to Crain’s Detroit, there were about 20,000 seats in the Joe. However, the seats vary in price depending on what the customer wants. They are being sold in sets of two for $150, but additional fees are added for those requesting specific sets. Those who buy a set can visit the arena to pick them up, or they can pay to have the seats shipped.

    Joe Louis Arena full seats

    A better look at all the seats. (Image by Ken Lund via Flickr)

    Everything Must Go

    A rough minimum estimate would show that the arena would make at least $300,000 on just seats that weren’t specifically requested. However, those in charge of the proceeds will also be hosting an online auction to sell nearly everything else in the arena. This includes furniture, lighting, and signs, including the scoreboard. Once they’ve offset their costs, the extra money will be donated to several Detroit charities.

    As sign makers, we can’t help but imagine unique signs that marked off seat sections and refreshment stands now hanging in someone’s home. Maybe the signs will go to a collector who will mount it in glass? Maybe they’ll go to a father who took his son to hockey games at the Joe growing up? No matter what happens to them, it’s nice to know that these signs will have a greater value to someone than the materials and labor it took to create them and that they’ll continue to represent the great memories Detroit has of Joe Louis Arena.

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