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Prospects like what they see in new arena

by Dana Wakiji / Detroit Red Wings

More than 40 prospects and development camp invitees were given a tour of District Detroit preview center at Comerica Park on Wednesday night.

DETROIT – They came from all over the world yet there was a general consensus about what they saw – the Red Wings' new stadium looks fantastic.

The Wings' just-drafted players, prospects and invitees to their development camp got a private tour along with Jiri Fischer, director of player development, of the plans for the new stadium and District Detroit.

District Detroit is the vision of the Ilitch family for a state-of-the-art events center and surrounding areas that will comprise 50 blocks of the city, including Comerica Park, Ford Field and the Fox Theatre.

Wings general manager Ken Holland had mentioned that the experience at Montreal's Bell Centre, where the fans seem to be on top of the ice and the noise can be intimidating, so the Wings are looking to exceed that with what is expected to be the tightest bowl in the league.

As Ypsilanti, Michigan, native and Windsor Spitfires defenseman Jalen Chatfield said, "Who wouldn't want to play there?"

The players visited a full-size suite, one of 52 that will be in the new rink, and appreciated the views of the ice and the modern technology in each one.

Every suite, which is double the size of the suites at Joe Louis Arena, will have three areas, one for watching the game, another for eating and another for meeting or relaxing.

Each site will have five large screens which can be programmed to show broadcasts of other games or even the merchandise of a suite-holder.

"It's mind-blowing, the size of these," said camp invitee Kevin Lidstrom, son of Hall of Famer Nicklas. "It's going to be pretty amazing."

Kevin and Adam Lidstrom would know, having spent plenty of time at Joe Louis Arena, including the suites there, during their father's career.

The plans also include a practice facility, which will be built below the plaza, at the same level as the ice of the regular rink.

The plaza is where there will be room for up to 5,000 people to enjoy outdoor concerts and other events, including a bridge which can show televised events like Opening Day for those without tickets to the game.

Evgeny Svechnikov, the Wings' first-round pick in last week's draft, is making his first trip to Detroit and was looking at the plans, imagining himself there.

"I was thinking about that, maybe someday be there and play with great teammates," Svechnikov said. "It's a good opportunity for me right now."

It also was an opportunity for last year's first-round pick, Dylan Larkin, to see where he will be playing in a few years.

"It's incredible what it's doing for Detroit, the plans they have to change the city," Larkin said. "It's going to be one of the nicest rinks. It'll be fun playing with the fans in the stands right on top of you.

"It's going to be awesome."

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