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Personal Narrative: The Joe Louis Arena Essay

When asked to name a favorite place, some people’s brains may be flooded with memories of different spaces and experiences they have had. But for me, it is easy. Only one place comes to mind—the Joe Louis Arena. The home of the Detroit Red Wings is a dome rich in history and uniquely located in an American city that sits uncharacteristically north of Canada. Built in 1979, The Joe has a personality all of its own. The Joe Louis Arena is my favorite place because of the pre-game experience in the city, the historical vibe of the arena, and, of course, the excitement of the greatest game in sports.

The pre-game experience of a Red Wings game at The Joe is like no other. Finding parking and joining the sea of red jerseys rambling the streets brings immediate excitement. The first stop is the famous Hockey Town Cafe where savory food is enjoyed while also spending time admiring all the pictures, jerseys, and history from years past. Naturally, the server will chit chat about the upcoming game and current players’ stats while game highlights are being broadcasted on immense televisions that surround the vast space. Then it is time to step out into the frigid Detroit winter with a brisk walk down the street.

When passing the famous Fox Theater, the doormen call out, “Have fun at the game! ” Entering the transit station, it’s time to join more fans on the People Mover, an above ground rail system that runs through downtown Detroit, weaving in and out of buildings, taking patrons anywhere from the General Motors headquarters to Comerica park, home of the Tigers.

All conversation is centered on the upcoming game and predicted outcomes while also admiring the fans’ jerseys or shirts and taking mental note of which players are most represented by he numbers adorned on the red attire. Once the view from the window changes to the Detroit River, with ice sheets floating down from Lake St. Clair, the excitement intensifies as the train driver’s voice announces, “Next stop is Joe Louis. ” Seconds later it is time to step out into the chilly air once again at the beloved destination, 19 Steve Yzerman Drive.

This unusually shaped grey rectangular arena flaunts large letters that proudly display the words “Joe Louis Arena. The lines move fairly quickly while standing in line waiting to walk through the famed Gordie Howe Entrance. The historical vibe of the arena embraces fans as soon as they are at last out of the cold and inside The Joe. The statues of the greats like Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay tower above while an enormous purple octopus suspends from the low ceiling. The market-like area of food vendors gives off an aroma of old town festivals, with burgers and hotdogs on the grill, and beer and popcorn being consumed.

It is impossible not to be now fully engulfed in the festive atmosphere where every type of Red Wings merchandise is colorfully displayed-jerseys, shirts, pucks, noise makers, and plenty more trigger a spending mood as fans suddenly feel a need for all the latest apparel. For big spenders, there are tiny boutique shops tucked under the slanted walls where purchases of actual gear used by the players on the team and signed memorabilia can be acquired, or just admired.

The smell of 36 years of this arena’s history and the presence of all 90 years of team history take hold as pictures of Lord Stanley, along with murals and exhibits of the celebrated former players’ jerseys and gear are displayed throughout the circular walk around the historic building. In the distance chants become louder, “LET’S GO RED WINGS! (clap-clap-clap-clapclap). ” Passing through the big red curtains, the red seats are occupied with twenty thousand fans ready for puck drop.

The Joe overflows with the excitement of the greatest game in sports —ice hockey. The climb to the assigned seat is up incredibly steep stairs with no handrails to rely on, because this arena was built pre-American disability act. After squeezing past other fans, it is time to observe the pregame warm ups as the players enter the ice and ceremoniously knock the pucks onto the ice. Many fans crowd around the glass while others point out favorite players and take note of pregame rituals.

At 7:30 the referee drops the puck, and a previously boisterous crowd becomes eerily silent. Game on! For three intense periods of non-stop action, the excitement erupts and is upheld as fans scream swear words at the referees and opposing team’s players for bad calls and illegal moves. When a goal is scored, the whole building jumps to their feet cheering and screaming. But nothing says hockey like gloves thrown off and fists flying. This often results in beer being slung around the stadium seating by animated fans.

After a few more goals and brawls by both teams, the excitement comes to a sudden halt as a final score is posted. Whether the Wings have fallen to the opposing team or achieved a victory, it is all part of the experience. The departing walk back though the historical atmosphere, past everything previously seen, there is a feeling of melancholy as it is time to say goodbye until next time. Exiting through the backside, the frigid Detroit air is refreshing as fans flood onto the streets and along the river walk, discussing the game and the outcome.

Win or lose, nothing is better than seeing the boys from HockeyTown take the ice and spending time in a favorite place. It is easy to see why the Joe Louis Arena is my favorite place. The pre-game experience in the city, the historical vibe of the arena, and, of course, the excitement of the greatest game in sports are all reasons to love the home of the Detroit Red Wings. This team carries so much respect and history, like the arena itself, it would be difficult to not find fun or excitement when experiencing the team and the place they call home in Hockey Town, USA.

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