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NHL events coming to Little Caesars Arena, Commissioner Bettman says

It's matter of time until All-Star Game is at Red Wings' 'incredible' new home

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist

DETROIT -- NHL events like the All-Star Game and Draft will come to Little Caesars Arena.

"It's a question of timing," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Thursday before the Detroit Red Wings played the Minnesota Wild in the first regular-season game in their new home.

Little Caesars Arena is the centerpiece of a 50-block development called The District Detroit, revitalizing a part of the city connecting downtown to midtown. Construction is ongoing.

"They would take an All-Star Game, I think, next year," Commissioner Bettman said. "I said, 'I'd like to see The District finished, so that when we bring guests in from all around the world that they can see what the entire vision was and how it's played out.'

"So whether that's two, three or four years, when all the construction's done, we will be here with League events. I have no doubt about that."

Video: MIN@DET: Ceremonial puck drop at Little Caesars Arena

Commissioner Bettman toured the arena on Thursday with Chris Ilitch, son of Mike Ilitch, the Red Wings owner who died Feb. 10. Chris Ilitch runs the family business empire as president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings and oversaw the Little Caesars Arena project, running the plans past his father frequently.

"I've got to tell you: I just love this arena," Commissioner Bettman said. "It is incredible. We just spent the last two hours walking every inch of it. I sat in the very last row to see what the view is, and every seat in the house is great. This arena in addition to being state of the art has every conceivable amenity, an incredible use of technology and a remarkable tie to history and tradition of this great Original Six franchise. …

"I know this is a place Mike Ilitch would have been extraordinarily proud of, because it is just remarkable. What the District is doing for downtown Detroit is a marvel to behold, and it's great to see. So on behalf of the League, I'm proud to see this arena."

Commissioner Bettman raved about everything from the Via concourse, made to feel like an indoor city street with a clear roof; to the LED grid on the ceiling, which changes colors and creates effects; to the bowl, an intimate setting with steeply pitched seats; to the locker room, a 25,000-square-foot facility.

"I'm not sure how you can do better than this," Commissioner Bettman said. "It's simply state-of-the-art, first class. You know, you see little snippets of things that are in other arenas. They took the best of the best, integrated it into this amazing facility, and then layered on top of it."

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