Another Look At Joe Louis

With the 20,900-capacity Joe Louis Arena nearing its 30th birthday, the Ilitch family has shifted Olympia Entertainment President Randy Lippe to a full-time position where he will decide if the Detroit venue needs an upgrade or a retirement.

Lippe was named senior executive in charge of arena development at Olympia Development, according to an Ilitch Holdings spokeswoman. The Ilitch family owns the Detroit Red Wings and the Joe, as well as the city’s Fox Theatre, Cobo Arena and Comerica Park. Ilitch Holdings’ Olympia Entertainment operates each venue.

Lippe is expected to continue supervising day-to-day operations of Olympia Entertainment until a successor is chosen.

The arena was built in 1979 as a means of keeping the Wings in town. According to The Detroit News, however, family patriarch Mike Ilitch hasn’t made a firm decision against building in the suburbs, as discussed on a recent Detroit sports show.

The Ilitches have a 30-year lease from the city of Detroit for the arena, which expires in 2009. The family has expressed interest in building a facility or renovating the Joe for years.

As for any firm time constraints on the project, Ilitch Holdings Inc. hasn’t released any statements.