Red Wings closer to new arena with pair of architects

Posted on May 23, 2012

The Detroit Red Wings have selected an architect to design a new NHL arena in downtown Detroit, a sign the team is moving ahead with the project.

HKS, co-designer of American Airlines Center, will team with Chan Krieger NBBJ, a Boston architect specializing in urban developments, according to three industry sources.

Officials with HKS in Dallas and Chan Krieger NBBJ said they could not comment on the project.

Karen Cullen, a corporate spokeswoman for the Red Wings, said there was nothing new to report, adding “our organization has been on record saying we’d like to have a new arena in downtown Detroit.”

The Red Wings intend to develop a new 18,000-seat facility to replace outdated Joe Louis Arena, sources said. Over the past few years, the team has considered renovating the 33-year-old, city-owned facility as well as sharing the Palace of Auburn Hills with the NBA Pistons and building a new arena for both teams.

The team is considering a few sites for a new arena, sources said, including property behind the Fox Theatre, headquarters of Olympia Entertainment, a sports and entertainment company owned by Mike Ilitch, owner of the Red Wings.

The Red Wings chose HKS after requesting qualifications from sports architects with experience designing major league facilities.

AECOM; 360 Architecture; Populous, designer of Comerica Park, home of the Ilitch-owned MLB Tigers; and Rossetti, architect for the Palace and Ford Field, home of the NFL Lions, were short-listed. Chris Ilitch, CEO and president of Ilitch Holdings, interviewed the candidates in Detroit, sources said.

HKS has not designed a major league arena since American Airlines Center opened in 2001. Since then, 11 arenas have opened at the highest level of sports. Among those, NHL-specific venues opened in Phoenix, Newark, Pittsburgh and Winnipeg.

The firm’s recent projects cover two NFL stadiums, a pair of MLB spring training complexes in Arizona, and extensive work on new college football stadiums and renovations. HKS also designed the $78 million College Park Center, a 6,700-seat arena on the University of Texas at Arlington campus, that opened in February.

In California, HKS is working on a $3 million study for the city of Oakland to develop a new sports and entertainment complex that could replace Oracle Arena, home of the Golden State Warriors, and Coliseum, where the NFL Raiders and MLB Athletics play.

Chan Krieger NBBJ’s work includes a West Riverfront mixed-use project in Detroit, according to its website. The project, part of a 5 1/2-mile stretch of redevelopment along the Detroit River that includes Joe Louis Arena, remains in the planning stages.

The responsibility of architect Alex Krieger, founding principal of Chan Krieger NBBJ and a Harvard professor of urban design, is to develop an entertainment district tied to a new arena in Detroit, similar to Nationwide Arena in Columbus and Staples Center in Los Angeles, sources said.

In 2010, Chan Krieger Sieniewicz merged with NBBJ, the firm designing Pauley Pavilion’s $136 million renovation on the UCLA campus.

By Don Muret, Sports Business Journal