Sorry LCA, But You’re No Palace
The new Little Caesars Arena is an amazing building, but the all of the flash still doesn't block out the huge downsides of the arena.
I need to start this off by saying I realize that most of this may sound like whining from an old, poor Pistons fan. Let's start by getting a few things out of the way.
- I know that LCA is an amazing state of the art entertainment facility.
- I've been told that moving the Pistons to downtown Detroit was 100% the right thing to do.
- I realize that the Joe was a complete dump hole.
- I even accept the fact that Kid Rock has his own effing restaurant in the building.
- Redwings fans, this doesnt really apply to you, because having the Wings play roller hockey on Woodward would be better than another year at the The Joe.
So with those things laid out up front, let's get to a few of the glaring problems at LCA.
ESCALATORS ONLY GO UP
This may seem trivial, but why in the hell would you have an many up escalators, but no down escalators? Sure there are more elevators than the Palace had (complete with a elevator operator . . . which is another WTF moment) but why make it so inconvenient to get back to ground level? Considering most of the fan base can only afford to sit in the upper level, this seems like a pretty big oversight.
EVEN GETTING IN TO LCA IS A PAINFUL PROCESS
So far I've attended a big concert and two sporting events at LCA, and the story has been the same each time. Wait in a mob-like line to even get in the doors. LCA has a capacity of roughly 20,000 (more for concerts) and they insist on running everyone through poorly operated entrances. Each time there has been two groups trying to squeeze through the doors, and 10 metal detectors (3 of which are actually in service).
I understand how cool the outdoor area will be in the summer . . . but this is Michigan and the majority of both the Redwings and Pistons seasons are played in the dead of Winter. The tone for the rest of your experience is set at LCA before you even get in the door.
THE 200 LEVEL
Have you ever been mountain climbing? Welcome to the 200 level at LCA. If you've never experienced vertigo before, you are in for a treat.
After you've acclimated yourself to the high altitude, crammed your feet into the tiny space you are allotted, you are forced come to terms that you paid $44 for this terrible seat. Keep in mind that the suites are built so that they actually BLOCK YOUR VIEW! Not to worry though, the LCA has TV's built into the back of the suite that is blocking your view of the jumbo tron, so you'll still be able to watch the game. Never mind the fact that if I wanted to watch the game on TV, I would have just stayed home.
FOOD & DRINK
If you still have money left after your event ticket, and parking (we'll cover parking in the next section) you have the opportunity to pay a minimum of $18 for two drinks. Perhaps you'd like to indulge in a medium pizza and four sodas for $43.
I get it . . . no one should expect cheap food or drinks at a major arena, but it just feels like an added kick in the teeth after parking and trying to get in the venue.
Good luck. Depending on the type of event, you could pay as much as $45 to get within three blocks of the arena. Detroit is a mess right now, and even though the Q Line was supposed to save us all from ourselves, it's really just a nuisance.
Let's compare these complaints to the old home of the Pistons, The Palace of Auburn Hills.
- The Palace could fit the entire capacity into their parking lot, which had it's own expressway exit.
- The Palace had no limited visibility seats, even for the poor folks that could only afford the upper level.
- Despite being nearly 30 years old, The Palace was still one of the best arenas in the NBA.
- You didn't need an oxygen tank, extensive climbing experience, and a Sherpa to get to the worst seats in the Palace.
- *Selfish Injection* The Palace was 30 minutes away, with absolutely no construction filled Detroit streets to deal with.
So after this is all said and done, what can I do about it? Boycott all events at LCA?
No, that would only be hurting me, since they will bring in tons of great acts, and I genuinely do LOVE going to Detroit. Not to mention that the Pistons are only getting better. What this really means is that I've spent a good amount of time unloading my frustrations onto a blog that will only resonate with people who live north of Waterford.
THE UNDERLYING PROBLEM
There is a definite disconnect between the pro sports teams in Michigan, and the majority of the state. Michigan is a big place, and nobody should be upset about having to drive to see their favorite team. However, they should be able to expect an extremely welcoming environment when they do make the long trip. Right now, LCA is not providing that. Now, it most likely will improve as the years go on, but for someone that's bitter about the move in the first place, this is still a big hurdle.
Put it this way . . . A family of four that is trying to go to a Pistons game can buy a family four pack for $99. That includes 4 tickets, hot dogs and sodas. Not a bad price, but the seats are definitely be in the 200 level, so plan on watching the game on a TV in the arena. Now put in the extra 30 minutes to drive one way, and another $30 to park. Factor in a drink, or souvenir, and you're well into the $200 range just so the family can sit on a mountain side watching a TV showing what's happening on the court below.
IF you do decide to take kids down with you, make sure you tie on to each other because you don't want to find yourself in the same predicament Stallone did when he was in the upper level.
This won't be a problem for the wealthier people among us, but for everyone else, it seems a little ridiculous. This is the trend though in pro sports, with rising salaries put on the backs of fans.
I'll end by saying that LCA is an amazing building. It feels like a futuristic spaceship that has something new catching your eye every 20 feet. I'm sure that most of these problems (excluding high prices) will be worked out by the second or third year. I just really miss The Palace.