DETROIT - This offseason was unlike any other for the Detroit Red Wings Ticket Service Department.
The Red Wings staff faced the daunting task of relocating more than 3,500 full season ticket accounts from Joe Louis Arena into new seats at the future home of the Wings, Little Caesars Arena.
The reseating process began back in May after the Red Wings unveiled the state-of-the-art District Detroit Preview Center to 100 level Season Ticket Holders, and after six months of personal, VIP tours, the Wings are almost halfway done with the entire reseating process.
The Preview Center, which is located inside a private area on the northwest corner of Comerica Park, is a 10,000-square-foot space which features scaled 3D models of the entire 50-block District Detroit and the Red Wings' new arena, providing a fully immersive experience of the transformative project.
The expansive space gives a glimpse into the future of Hockeytown, and gives Season Ticket Holders access to a Virtual Venue where they can see every suite, club and general sightline from the 20,000-plus seats inside Little Caesars Arena.
Keeping in line with the organization's fan-centric values, the Red Wings Ticket Service Department elected to invite every single full Season Ticket Holder to the Preview Center for a VIP tour.
And as the Farewell Season at The Joe continues, the Wings are right on schedule with new arena reseating.
Every 100 level Season Ticket Holder has been reseated at Little Caesars Arena and the Wings' staff will move onto reseating Mezzanine and 200 level ticket holders, starting Nov. 1.
"With less than a year to go, our Season Ticket Holders are getting excited about seeing games at Little Caesars Arena," said Tom Wilson, president and CEO of Olympia Entertainment. "Our Ticket Service Executives are almost halfway through the process of taking each and every season ticket account through our innovative Preview Center so our fans can see what their seats will look and feel like in the new space-and our team has been running these tours almost non-stop since May. They've put in long hours and many long days, conducting more than 1,600 tours throughout the reseating process so far."
One of the 1,600-plus Season Ticket Holders who's completed a Preview Center tour is Albion, Mich., resident Bernard Konkle.
Konkle and his family have had Red Wings season tickets since 1939, and the 52-year-old said he was extremely impressed with his Preview Center visit.
"It was outstanding and very informative," Konkle said. "I thought the models gave you a great perspective of all the work taking place, and I thought some of the virtual information was great. Being able to sit in the actual seats was nice too. The whole experience was fantastic."
Konkle, who's been a lifelong Red Wings fan, said he was pleased to see the personal touch that went into his reseating experience.
"It shows the Red Wings' commitment to us, the fans," Konkle said. "(The Red Wings) have been top-notch when it comes to our experience, always keeping us abreast of all the activities taking place. They were very helpful in the reseating process and did an excellent job in all areas for us."
Peter Easson and his family have also been Red Wings Season Ticket Holders since the team played at Olympia Stadium in the 1970s, and the Milford, Mich., resident agreed that the hands-on approach the organization has taken has been gratifying.
"It's extremely good customer service," Easson said about his reseating experience. "Most organizations don't do that. The fact that the Wings organization has put the time and effort into this whole process shows how much they value the entire fan base. Obviously it's an extremely positive situation."
Easson, 47, said the Red Wings' exemplary service has gone above and beyond his expectations, especially recently.
"It's been awesome. Anytime I call or email, all my questions are answered, and if I miss something, they go out of their way to contact me," he said. "I think the customer service over the last five to seven years has improved significantly, so that's been really nice."
The Red Wings have approximately 1,900 more season ticket accounts to get reseated in the new arena, expecting to complete the entire process in early 2017.
And to make reseating more convenient for Season Ticket Holders, the Red Wings are adding an online option through RedWingsSeasonTickets.com, beginning Nov. 1, where fans can utilize the Virtual Venue without having to visit the Preview Center.
Season Ticket Holders will also have the ability to schedule in-person reseating meetings with their Ticket Service Executive on the Joe Louis Arena concourse during Red Wings games, making it easier than ever to secure seats at Little Caesars Arena.
"It's been an overwhelmingly positive experience and our Season Ticket Holders consistently tell us how much they appreciate the hands-on, personalized approach to this process," Wilson said. "I think when they are done with the reseating process, they have a great sense of what their experience is going to be like at the new arena. We just can't wait to open this new building."
One of the biggest things Easson said he's looking forward to when Little Caesars Arena opens in September 2017 is the opportunity to make a Red Wings game a full-evening family event where the new arena becomes a destination, instead of just a hockey venue.
"The excitement around the new arena with the architecture, the restaurants and everything, it's just going to improve the entire Red Wings experience for the fans," Easson said. "I think everyone is really excited about it."
Because his family has spent so much time following the Red Wings, Easson said the tradition of going to games has become a rite of passage, and the team has become part of his family.
And he couldn't be more excited to be part of it moving forward.
"The tickets have been in our family for three generations." Easson said. "I grew up watching the Wings from Olympia (Stadium) to The Joe, and now onto Little Caesars Arena. We spend a lot of time as a family enjoying the Red Wings. They're part of our family tradition, and we just keep coming back."