DETROIT - It was difficult to say goodbye to Joe Louis Arena but Red Wings fans are already excited about Little Caesars Arena and the regular season hasn't even started.
It was just an exhibition game but the 17,314 in attendance got to see not only a 5-1 Wings victory over the Boston Bruins, but a vibrant new piece of Detroit.
"We didn't get much time to look around but the seats are fantastic and the whole arena is really nice," said Brian Zahn of Plymouth. "The scoreboard is great, the video is great. Everything is beautiful. The arena is great and the food is fabulous."
Kelly Zahn agreed that the seats and view were wonderful but found it hard to pin down what she liked best.
"My favorite part is the entire experience," she said.
Richard and Adriana Rodriguez of Macomb said they arrived early so they could get a look at the finished product.
Both had visited during construction.
"Just a lot of detail they put into it," Adriana Rodriguez said. "They paid attention to a lot of small detail."
"The Olympia letters, that's awesome," Richard Rodriguez said, talking about how the illuminated letters from old Olympia Stadium were brought out of storage from Joe Louis Arena and given a prominent spot at Little Caesars Arena.
Another detail that Adriana Rodriguez liked was the way the Wings honored their players.
"I like how they paid tribute to not just the Yzermans or the Gordie Howes, but you got (Tomas) Holmstrom and all the not-as-big names around here, too," she said. "That's cool."
They haven't been in there yet but the Rodriguezes are looking forward to a very special part of Little Caesars Arena.
"We were just talking about how we love they put the Players Club in there," Richard Rodriguez said. "The whole Players Club idea, how they walk through (to and from the ice), I love that. Hopefully we get a chance to sit in there."
Adrian Hall of East Lansing was one of several people who mentioned the food.
"Super open and modern, there's so many places to go and eat and get gourmet food and get cool drinks," Hall said. "I love walking around the entire walkways around here and seeing everything that's new. It's so cool."
For Reggie Dunlop of Livonia, the Wings achieved the goal of making the bowl of the arena feel intimate. "I really like how tight the circle of the new arena is," Dunlop said. "It's much quicker to get all the way around, it's much more user friendly. The curb appeal is extraordinary. When you get in, it's breathtaking."
People packed the Chevrolet Plaza for the pre-game party and waited in lines to get into Mike's Pizza Bar and Sports & Social sports bar.
All in all, the fans were enthusiastic about everything.
"The whole arena is great," Adriana Rodriguez said. "I'm just glad hockey's back and we get to enjoy the arena."
Main photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings.