Just over a year after Little Caesars Arena opened as the new home of the Detroit Pistons and Detroit Red Wings, the $862-million multi-purpose complex is getting an overhaul.
And it seems to have a little bit to do with the city's poorly performing teams.
The Pistons have made the NBA Playoffs just once in the last nine years, and the Red Wings are stuck in rebuild mode for the second straight year after ending their historic postseason streak in 2016-17. Perhaps at least in part due to those struggles, many of the arena's 18,600 red bowl seats were left empty in the stadium's first year of existence.
As reported by The Detroit News and Crain's Detroit Business, that's why every one of those seats will be taken out and replaced with black seats starting in December.
"We evaluated every aspect of arena operations during the inaugural year, and after numerous discussions with the Pistons and other stakeholders, we have made the decision to install black seats at Little Caesars Arena," the arena's operating company said in a statement, per Crain's Detroit Business, adding that games or other events at the arena will not be affected by the changes.
Little Caesars Arena holds more than 20,000 but features all-red seating in the bowl section, which cost $3.5 million to install, and as the News noted, those red seats "became a public-relations nightmare for Red Wings and Pistons officials last season, serving as unwanted spotlights for empty seats."
(Building) officials initially tried to explain away the empty seats by saying fans were simply in the concourses and elsewhere in the building, checking out the new digs. But that excuse became less and less convincing as the (Pistons and Red Wings) seasons -- both rough ones, record-wise -- went along, and the number of empty red seats seemed only to increase.
So beginning in December, over the course of several months, all of them will be replaced. That doesn't exactly solve any attendance problems, but it may at least steer conversation away from any gaping red holes in the stands.
In the interim, as the News reported, the lower-bowl seats will be covered with temporary black fabrics -- something the arena did for 2017-18 Pistons games.