DETROIT (WXYZ) - The first images have been released showing the new Detroit Red Wings arena and the entertainment district that will surround the arena.
Olympia Development of Michigan released the first renderings of the project Sunday.
The project is designed to connect downtown Detroit with Midtown. It will be built on dozens of blocks near Woodward Avenue and will be integrated with existing facilities such as the Fox Theatre, Comerica Park, MotorCity Casino, Ford Field, the Detroit Opera House and the Fillmore Detroit - which are either already inside the district or adjacent to it.
“It’s always been my dream to see a vibrant and energized downtown Detroit,” said Mike Ilitch, chairman, Ilitch Holdings, Inc. in a news release “I want people to look at Detroit’s new sports and entertainment district and see what I see: the potential for something very special. I couldn’t be more excited and proud to bring this vision to life.”
Detroit 2020 Insider and Detroit Free Press editorial page editor Stephen Henderson says it's going to take more than just game crowds to sustain such a sweeping plan. “We need a lot more people living here, working here, playing here, to sustain that much more residential and retail and entertainment,” he said. “Sometimes that stuff comes through, sometimes it comes up a little short,” he added. Henderson says now that the vision is there, the hard work - the execution - begins.
Groundbreaking on the new 20,000 seat arena and entertainment district is tentatively set for the fall of this year. Construction will include millions in infrastructure improvements.
The district will be divided into five areas, each of which will have their own personality. They have been given the following working names: Columbia Street, Wildcat Corner, Cass Park Village and Columbia Park. The fifth area does not yet have a working name and will be where the new arena is located.
The entertainment district will also include residential areas, as well as dozens of restaurants and shopping facilities, as well as a hotel and green space.
The arena itself is scheduled to open in 2017. The playing surface will be below street level.
“Our vision for the new arena is for a one-of-a-kind facility that fits in with its neighborhood, that is authentic to our Detroit roots and offers an unmatched fan experience,” said Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, Inc., in a news release. “We will build a revolutionary venue for hockey, music, entertainment and community events, and at the same time, a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood surrounding it.”