The Red Wings and Pistons are holding a double-header at Little Caesars Arena for the first time tomorrow, December 18th. The Pistons will play a 12 PM EST game against the Houston Rockets, and then the Red Wings will host the New Jersey Devils at 8 PM EST.
The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan spoke with Ilitch Sports & Entertainment’s Tim Padgett regarding the first attempt to pull off an NBA-and-then-NHL-game-hosting day:
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge but it’s something that we’re excited about, and something we’ve been looking forward to doing since we opened the venue (in 2017),” said Tim Padgett, vice-president of venue operations for Ilitch Sports & Entertainment. “It’s something we’ve been planning for a long time and we’re in good shape for it. We’ve had a lot of meetings, literally for months. To see it all come together, it will be super satisfying for sure.”
The hoopla actually began Friday with the WJLB Big Holiday Show concert at LCA. That meant the conversion team was transforming the venue for basketball, with shoot-around beginning as early as 9 a.m., then converting for hockey immediately when the Pistons end at approximately 2:30 p.m.
“There’s no rest for those guys,” said Padgett of the approximately 80-member team that transforms the arena from event to event. “They’ll put in a very long day (Saturday). They’ll be in the arena at night converting all night and be ready for the shoot-around and they’ll get some time off during the day and be back for hockey.
“Then we’ll have the Pistons on Sunday (against Miami, 6 p.m.) and would have had the Wings on Monday (the game has been postponed) and back to basketball Tuesday with Oakland and Michigan State. That COVID game (Colorado’s COVID issues necessitated Monday’s game to be postponed), as much as we hate to see it happen, it gives our conversion team one night of rest they weren’t expecting.”
Having a basketball and hockey game on the same day gets a large segment of fans into downtown Detroit for essentially the whole day. It also frees up the calendar to get concerts or shows for open, available evenings.
“People will take in both games, which is awesome, and there will be a lot of people in the district going to restaurants, and going forward, it gives us an opportunity to put more events in the building,” Padgett said. “Normally you’d see a more of a Pistons game on Friday night, but we’re able to get our guests an opportunity for a concert and both (teams) on Saturday and a Pistons game on Sunday.”
Continued, and this is a very good read!