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Jack Adams Memorial Arena Receives Major Makeover

by Joshua Berenter / Detroit Red Wings

DETROIT – The 95-degree heat on Friday was no match for the 1,000-plus volunteers who gathered at the corner of Lyndon and Meyers in northwest Detroit to help transform the exterior of Jack Adams Memorial Arena and Adams Butzel Recreation Complex into a spectacular work of art.

The gathering was part of the annual Finale Friday celebration hosted by Summer in the City, a non-profit organization whose goal is to create a “Fun, Flexible and Fulfilling” environment for young people in Detroit by creating murals, building urban gardens and running youth enrichment programs throughout the summer. 

Volunteers from the Red Wings and Olympia Entertainment painted a large-scale, Detroit-themed mural on the exterior of Jack Adams Memorail Arena on Friday. (Photo By Brian Woodworth/Detroit Red Wings)

Over 1,000 Summer in the City youth campers, volunteers and community members from various city organizations joined together at Jack Adams Memorial Arena and Adams Butzel Recreation Complex for the Finale Friday event to help paint a large-scale mural—measuring more than 300 feet long and 18 feet high—on the building’s exterior.

And the mural painting was just the beginning of Friday’s celebration as attendees also enjoyed a barbeque, petting zoo, bounce house and other activities, all while working to beautify the park adjacent to the complex.

Adams Butzel Recreation Complex recreation coordinator David Pitts previously worked at last summer’s Finale Friday site, Detroit’s Crowell Community Center, and urged Summer in the City to host this year’s event at the Detroit hockey and recreation complex.

“We want to showcase what we are and what we have. At Jack Adams Arena, we strive to provide safe, fun and affordable programs for everyone in the community,” said Pitts, a lifelong hockey player and Detroit resident. “We really want to engage kids in the ice hockey community, and offer a welcoming atmosphere for kids to be able to fall in the love with hockey at an affordable cost.”

Jack Adams Memorial Arena opened its doors in 1981 as a premier ice skating and hockey venue in Detroit, and is currently the city’s only indoor, public rink. Operated by the Detroit Parks and Recreation Department, the arena hosts in-house leagues and learn-to-skate programs—governed by USA Hockey—for children ages 3-12.

Because this year’s mural was set to be painted on a hockey arena, the Detroit Parks and Recreation Department elected to partner with the Detroit Red Wings for the Finale Friday event.

“The Detroit Red Wings are committed to seeking unique opportunities that engage the community in a progressive way,” said Kevin Brown, director of community relations & Detroit Red Wings Foundation. “Events like this help shine a light on the incredible resources available to Detroit residents through the Parks & Recreation Department.”

Brown said he was thrilled for the Red Wings to be part of such a positive community event, and said the Wings were happy to support an organization that provides a myriad of activities for the community to enjoy.

“This process, from start to finish, was a sensational opportunity for Red Wings fans around the world to come together in support of a recreation complex that provides so much for our community. The Adams Butzel Recreation Complex is truly a one-stop shop for people interested in leading an active and healthy lifestyle through hockey, swimming, basketball, boxing and more.”

Photo By Brian Woodworth/Detroit Red Wings

Nearly 7,000 online votes to help select the winning design were received from Metro Detroit and across the world, coming from all 50 United States and 29 countries including Australia, Brazil, France and Sweden, among others. 

The final mural incorporated a combination of the best Hockeytown-related elements from the top two designs, merged into one comprehensive piece which includes Detroit’s skyline, the Ambassador Bridge, the Spirit of Detroit and a photo of Jack Adams, all tied together with a striped beam throughout the design.

Olympia Entertainment creative director Bryan Durren, who produced one of the winning mural designs, said it was an honor for his team to receive the opportunity to contribute.

I’m proudest of the way our creative team jumped on the project,” Durren said. “They had an opportunity to make a positive impact in the community and they were all over it.

“Our senior graphic designer, Jim Ruffner, had a fantastic design.  I was really proud to see our designs converge, and I think the mural is stronger as a whole by having those pieces come together to capture the spirit of Detroit hockey.”

Ben Falik, the founder of Summer in the City, said he was ecstatic to host his organization’s annual Finale Friday celebration at Jack Adams Memorial Arena because of what the complex provides to the community.

“This arena is the best kept secret in the city, but we don’t want it to be a secret. We want everyone who goes by to know it’s this vibrant, active home for hockey,” Falik said. “Kids in the community have this amazing opportunity to play the game and develop as athletes and teammates.”

And although the relationship between Jack Adams Memorial Arena and the Red Wings started simply with plans to help the mural painting during Finale Friday, Pitts said the partnership has grown into a lasting connection that will be beneficial for the growth of the community and hockey in Detroit.

“The Red Wings been fantastic to work with,” Pitts said. “I really feel like they genuinely care about the programs here, and they want to be here and want to help. They’ve been great, and I feel like the Red Wings are now part of our Jack Adams Arena family.”

For more information regarding programs at Jack Adams Memorial Arena and Adams Butzel Recreation Complex, email David Pitts at PittsD@DetroitMI.gov.

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