Sunday, April 9, 2017

Melancholy Goodbyes - My Childhood Stadiums

I spent my Sunday evening watching the Detroit Red Wings play their final game in Joe Louis Arena. Many legends came back, tears were shed, and a game was won by the home team.

As I watched, I realized that with the opening of the Little Caesars Arena next fall, all of the Detroit-area stadiums of my childhood will be gone. Back in 1999 Tiger Stadium closed its doors for the final time. In 2001 the Lions wrapped up their tenure in the Pontiac Silverdome. I already mentioned the Red Wings' final game at Joe Louis Arena. And finally, tomorrow marks the final Pistons game at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

How am I supposed to feel about all of this? When I was growing up everyone knew where you were talking about when you heard "The Joe." The Silverdome might have been a giant piece of garbage, but that's where you watched Barry Sanders score touchdown after touchdown. People knew what you meant when you say "teal uniforms" because of the idiots who decided the Pistons needed a color change in the '90s. And if you didn't know where your seats were at Tiger Stadium, you spent your walking time in the concourse praying you didn't have a seat with an obstructed view.

In other words, these places brought amazing memories. Not only were their downs, but there were so many championships! In the last 35 years, there were eight different Big-Four championships won in those classic arenas, and now those arenas will never experience a championship again.

However, there is something important to mention here. Half of those stadiums weren't even in the city of Detroit! While the teams were called the Detroit ______________, the Pistons played in Auburn Hills and the Lions played in Pontiac, not Detroit. The Tigers were in the Corktown area and the Red Wings were so far south of downtown they were basically in Canada.

It's a sad time, yes, but it's also exciting to see that all four major Detroit teams will basically be within a half-mile radius of each other in the heart of downtown. Can you imagine when there's two teams playing on the same day? That place is going to be alive! Instead of people making fun of Detroit and piling on the stigma, they'll want to be there. I know I certainly do.

I love these farewell ceremonies that close down the stadiums - the 1999 close of Tiger Stadium still lingers with me to this day. It reminds everyone of those glory days and the exciting moments.

It is also exciting to think of all the new memories that are going to be made, and - hopefully - many championships to come at these new locations! Bring on Little Caesars Arena - I can't wait to see all the exciting things happening there and all over downtown Detroit!

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