Little Caesars Arena officially broke ground in Midtown Detroit on September 14, 2014. This multi-purpose arena replaced the 33-year-old Joe Louis Arena and was built to accommodate sports teams, retail outlets, box offices, and franchise administration offices.
Olympia Entertainment, owners of the Detroit Red Wings, had total operational control of the arena. Initially, Olympia was only responsible for making a home for the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings but with less than a year’s notice, it was announced they would also need to make space for NBA’s Detroit Pistons.
Because of the expedited timeline and the different rules and regulations from both the NHL and NBA, Olympia wisely sought help and decided to hire Color Art Sports’ FF&E Project Manager, Gary Arthur.
Gary and Color Art Sports were up-to-the-task. Working closely with project owners, designers and the Red Wings/Pistons Directors of Operations, they were able to develop and oversee the $9 million-dollar furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E) budget and streamline selection, purchase, delivery and installation processes.
In eight short weeks, Gary and Color Art Sports orchestrated the arrival and placement of everything not attached to the building: furniture, industrial laundry equipment, housekeeping supplies, hospitality tools, and even Zamboni machines.
“Project Management isn’t your typical 8-to-5 job; it is a 12 or 15 hour commitment where so many things can go wrong,” said Gary Arthur. “All you can do is stay on task, go with the flow and deliver the best that you can.”
And deliver he did. Little Caesars Arena opened its doors, on time, in November 2017. Looking back, Gary remembers a few fun surprises while working and living in Detroit.
The fan experience is what most people think of, but players and staff have needs too; weight rooms, laundry rooms, and dentist offices are a must-have for many stadiums. Gary shares that he worked closely with the general contractor and architects to verify that the plumbing, water and electrical lines were properly specified for the Team’s dental equipment.
He also remembers the laundry room. When Gary arrived on-site, he immediately noticed the laundry lines and equipment were built only for residential use. Gary knew from experience this wasn’t a practical solution for accommodating two professionally competitive teams and staff, so he worked diligently with the Director of Operations and general contractors to retrofit the lines and equipment and ensure their commercial grade and functionality.
Finally, Gary ran into issues with the building’s metal detectors. Not only are the security guidelines for the NHL and the NBA different, so too are the heights of the players. Basketball players are tall which means their security detectors need to be too. Additionally, the NBA requires tables in front of its security scanners so attendees’ belongings can be checked before entering. Gary made sure both needs were met in time for the season opener.