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Are Wings games worth the price?

For me -- and I assume for a lot of you, too -- the experience of going to a Red Wings game can be priceless.

Little Caesars Arena in Detroit before a Red Wings game. (WDIV)
Little Caesars Arena in Detroit before a Red Wings game. (WDIV)

It's an experience we share with family, friends and even complete strangers who we end up high-fiving at some point during the game. These are important moments in life that we sometimes take for granted.

I took my kids to a Red Wings preseason game on Sunday. They are young -- 1 and 2. This was their first time going to a game. I joked with my dad that I couldn't imagine taking them to Joe Louis Arena. The state-of-the-art Little Caesars Arena now has us all very spoiled. The experience inside LCA is much better, and that's coming from me -- a guy who loves old buildings and the tradition that the Joe offered. Even I admit the place was a dump, and taking two toddlers to a game there does not sound very appealing. Of course both my parents had to one-up me with Olympia stories. Now that would have been something.

The kids were floored when we walked into the lower bowl of the LCA. Yes, the lower bowl. Grandpa got the tickets for free because he had a gift certificate for LCA events. The pregame "show" on that big screen left them with wide eyes 👀, and then it was dancing, singing, dancing, and more dancing until that puck dropped. It was worth it. They watched world-class players hustle up and down the rink, listening to the sounds of hockey in person. They chanted with other fans, they clapped their little hands, and they wore themselves out and were falling asleep by the end! Parenting win. 👍

But as priceless as it was to see the kids enjoying something brand new to them, with it came an actual price to pay. Those tickets were $29 a piece -- for a preseason game! Popcorn, chips, hot dogs -- everything was at least $5-10. And you all know what the drink prices are like.

Since we didn't pay for the tickets, we splurged on parking. We decided to park in the deck next to the arena, like some kind of royalty. Normally I park on the other side of I-75 and walk -- sometimes all the way from WDIV on Lafayette Boulevard. But we decided to make it easier on the little kids and spend the $45 for the deck. Again, for a PRESEASON GAME! It's no wonder NHL teams say they're struggling to get people off their couches and to the games.

If not for that gift certificate, well, you do the math. It's a pricey family outing. But is the experience worth it? Live is still, and always will be, the best way to watch hockey. That fact, along with the huge upgrade in venue, at least feels worth it to a point. However, I can't imagine doing this more than once or twice a season, and that may be the real problem here. Sure, it's a fine experience -- especially if the team starts winning -- but who can afford to do it on a routine basis? Very few.

What's your experience been like?

-- Dave (dbartkowiak@wdiv.com | @DaveBartko)

Preseason check-in ✔️

The Red Wings, by the way, won that game in overtime, 3-2, over the Pittsburgh "Penguins." I say "Penguins" because they were without some of their top players, including Sidney Crosby.

A couple bright spots from the game:

  • Anthony Mantha -- he's good and getting better. I expect a big 30-goal season from him.
  • Madison Bowey -- the defenseman had a goal and 2 assists. He was picked up in the Nick Jensen trade with Washington last season. I'm wondering if he has a spot on this roster this season, of course, but even if he doesn't maybe there is trade value here. He just 24 years young.
  • Oliwer Kaski -- he's fast and can handle the puck, which is exactly what we've been told to expect from this Finnish defenseman. I think he deserves a chance this season with the Red Wings, not just in Grand Rapids.
  • Givani Smith -- I think Smith looks like a real solid 4th-liner. He was mixing it up each shift, crashing the corners and shoving guys around. I like it. The Red Wings need some of this. I saw him in a preseason game last year and he looked like he was out of breath. Honestly, he looked like garbage. Not this year. This year he looks ready to break into the NHL as at least a 4th-liner. We shall see.
  • Jonathan Bernier -- the veteran goalie was real solid on Sunday, making 32 saves for the win. He needs to stay healthy and stay on his game. The addition of Calvin Pickard has created good competition for Jimmy Howard's backup. I think it's working out for Bernier. We can only hope.

Here's what's left on the preseason schedule (regular season starts Saturday, Oct. 5 in Nashville):

DateGameResult
Sept. 17, 20197:30 p.m. vs. ChicagoW 5-3
Sept. 18, 20198:30 p.m. @ ChicagoL 2-1
Sept. 20, 20197:30 p.m. vs. New York IslandersL 4-3 (OT)
Sept. 22, 20195 p.m. vs. PittsburghW 3-2 (OT)
Sept. 23, 20197 p.m. @ New York IslandersL 3-2 (OT)
Sept. 25, 20197 p.m. @ PittsburghL 4-2
Sept. 26, 20197 p.m. vs. St. Louis 
Sept. 27, 20197:30 p.m. vs. Toronto 
Sept. 28, 20197 p.m. @ Toronto 

Newsletter name 📝

"Detroit Hockey Buzz" or something like it. That's where I am at right now, thanks to everyone's emails.

But I am not convinced. This is a big decision for me -- for us. So keep the ideas coming. 📧 (dbartkowiak@wdiv.com)

Thank you all and have a wonderful day!


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