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Detroit Olympia

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Olympia1927

The then brand-new Olympia in 1927.

Detroit Olympia
The Old Red Barn
Olympia Zamboni in patio of Detroits HockeyTown restaurant
Location 5920 Grand River Avenue, Detroit, Michigan
Opened 1927
Closed 1979
Demolished 1987
Owner
Tenants Detroit Cougars/Falcons/Red Wings (NHL) (1927–1979)
Detroit Pistons (National Basketball Association) (1957–1961)
Detroit Olympics (IHL) (1927–1936)
Capacity 15,000

Olympia Stadium, better known as the Detroit Olympia and nicknamed "The Old Red Barn", stood at 5920 Grand River Avenue in Detroit, Michigan from 1927 until 1987. It seated close to 15,000.

Olympia opened with a rodeo in September 1927, and shortly thereafter the main tenants of the building, the Detroit Red Wings of the NHL (at the time, known as the Cougars), moved in. The Cougars would play their first game at the Olympia on November 22, and Detroit's Johnny Sheppard would record the first goal scored at Olympia. However, the visiting Ottawa Senators would defeat the Cougars, 2-1.

Besides the Red Wings, the Olympia was also home in the 1930s to the Detroit Olympics International-American Hockey League minor league team, and from 1957 to 1961 the National Basketball Association's Detroit Pistons. It hosted the NBA All-Star Game in 1959 and the NCAA Frozen Four in 1977 and 1979.

In the mid-1970s, the Red Wings had seriously considered moving to the suburbs, especially after the Detroit Lions moved to the Pontiac Silverdome in 1975. The neighborhood surrounding the Olympia had been in decline since the 1967 riots, and two murders had occurred within the building's shadow. The team was offered a new arena by the City of Pontiac, and Red Wings owner Bruce Norris nearly moved the team to the suburb. But the City of Detroit responded with a counterproposal of a riverfront arena at one-third of the rent that Pontiac was offering, and the package also included operational control of Cobo Arena and the adjoining parking structures. The Red Wings accepted the offer to move to the new Joe Louis Arena, which was completed 19 days ahead of schedule.

Lincoln Cavalieri, general manager of Olympia Stadium, once described the construction of Olympia Stadium as tremendous, saying "... if an atom bomb landed, I'd want to be in Olympia." Although not likely to have actually survived a nuclear attack, the Olympia was considered to be a well-constructed building, and Cavalieri, along with many in the Red Wings organization, were sad to leave it behind.

On December 15, 1979, just three days after the first event held at Joe Louis Arena, the Red Wings played their final home game at the Olympia, a 4-4 tie against the Quebec Nordiques. The Olympia was included in part of the celebration of the 32nd NHL All-Star Game, which took place at The Joe on February 5, 1980. Because a provision in the Wings' lease with the City of Detroit prevented them from operating Olympia Stadium in competition with Joe Louis or Cobo Arenas for events, or selling the building for use as a competitive venue, the building was shuttered for good, and demolished in September 1987.

Overhead exit signs erected in the early 1970s along the Jeffries Freeway mentioning Olympia Stadium were taken down around 1980; the signs would be stored in the lower levels of Joe Louis Arena. Currently, the U.S. National Guard's Olympia Armory stands on the site. A historical marker was posted inside the armory commemorating the Olympia.

DetOly

The Olympia at night

ReferencesEdit

Preceded by
Border Cities Arena
Home of the
Detroit Cougars/Falcons/Red Wings

1927 – 1979
Succeeded by
Joe Louis Arena
Preceded by
War Memorial Coliseum
Home of the
Detroit Pistons

1957 – 1961
Succeeded by
Cobo Arena
Preceded by
First Arena
Home of the
Detroit Olympics

1929 – 1936
Succeeded by
Duquesne Gardens
(Pittsburgh Hornets)
Preceded by

Maple Leaf Gardens
Maple Leaf Gardens
Montreal Forum
Host of the
NHL All-Star Game

1950
1952
1954–1955
Succeeded by

Maple Leaf Gardens
Montreal Forum
Montreal Forum
Preceded by
University of Denver Arena
Denver, Colorado
Host of the
Frozen Four

1977
Succeeded by
Providence Civic Center
Providence, Rhode Island
Preceded by
Providence Civic Center
Providence, Rhode Island
Host of the
Frozen Four

1979
Succeeded by
Providence Civic Center
Providence, Rhode Island
Detroit Red Wings
Team Franchise • Players • Coaches • GMs • Seasons • Draft picks • Joe Louis Arena
Stanley Cups 1936, 1937, 1943, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1997, 1998, 2002
Affiliates Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL), Toledo Storm (ECHL), Flint Generals (IHL), Port Huron Icehawks (IHL)


This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Detroit Olympia. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Ice Hockey Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (Unported) (CC-BY-SA).


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