New stadiums are all the hype. Every owner wants a new, bigger, and better version of what they currently have in their hometown (and yes, at the expense of the taxpayers. That’s a separate issue though). With the end of the 2016-2017 NHL season, we said goodbye to one of the last stadiums of its kind: the Joe Louis Arena. It is the last of it’s kind of many reasons, but why is it that we get so attached to these places?
A brand new arena in Detroit is welcomed; the fans know their stadium is old and they have to sit in it for 41 home games every season. That doesn’t make saying goodbye any easier. Where we go to watch our favorite team play is more than just a venue; for many it becomes a second home.
You learn it in the same way you learn exactly where all the light switches are located, which drawer the forks and knives are in, and what that weird creaky noise is in the middle of the night. You’ve learned that the kitchen island isn’t in the best spot, but it’s what you love about it. You know the best route to and from, and all the back roads. Most importantly, if feels comfortable. You feel like you are yourself in this place. That is because the memories that make up who are you happened here. A lot of life happens in these stadiums. Change is a part of life, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard to say goodbye to the home you grew up in.
I can’t say that I have too much experience at the Joe. I saw one game there. However, when I walked in, you could feel it was different. Kind of like that feeling you get at Fenway or Wrigley. That is because these places are worn in (okay, maybe falling apart a little). That feeling only comes from holding so much history. Walking to the top of section 222 and seeing all the banners hanging in the rafters was a moment I will never forget. You could get a sense of what we were saying goodbye to at the end of the season.
As the final horn sounded at the Joe Louis Arena, it felt, in many ways, that we said goodbye to an entire era. Much like most things in life, stadiums have changed. Some people don’t understand why we get so attached to something like an arena. To many people, that arena was there for them during tough times, new friendships were forged here, and some of their best memories happened inside that building. But, when you think of saying goodbye, the future and all the new memories to be made at a new home look so bright.