Detroit Olympia
Olympia Stadium, better known as the Detroit Olympia and nicknamed The Old Red Barn, stood at 5920 Grand River Avenue in Detroit, Michigan from 1927 until 1987.

Several Detroit businessmen organized the Detroit Hockey Club, Inc. in 1926 and purchased the Victoria Cougars hockey team along with a site at Grand River and McGraw to construct a stadium. The cornerstone for the building was laid March 8, 1927 and Olympia opened with a Boy Scout Day that included a parade of flags and rodeo on October 26, 1927. Shortly thereafter, the primary tenants of the building, the NHL Cougars, began their long residence. The Cougars played their first game at the Olympia on November 22, 1927 and Detroit's Johnny Sheppard scored the first goal at the new building. However, the visiting Ottawa Senators defeated the Cougars, 2-1. The Cougars later became the Falcons and finally in 1932, were named the Detroit Red Wings by new owner James E. Norris. In addition to the Red Wings, the Olympia was also home to the Detroit Olympics International-American Hockey League minor league team in the 1930s, and the NBA's Detroit Pistons from 1957 to 1961. It hosted the NBA All-Star Game in 1959 and the NCAA Frozen Four in 1977 and 1979. The Olympia was a major venue for boxing through the International Boxing Club, featuring such prominent fights as Jake LaMotta's defeat of Sugar Ray Robinson, professional wrestling, as well as other events such as the American Legion Convention September 21”“26, 1931 during which President Herbert Hoover addressed delegates and regular visits by the Harlem Globetrotters, the Ice Capades and Shipstads and Johnson Ice Follies. After the Detroit Lions moved to the Pontiac Silverdome in 1975, the Red Wings seriously considered moving to the suburbs. The neighborhood surrounding the Olympia was in decline since the 1967 riots, and two murders occurred within the building's shadow. The city of Pontiac offered the team a new arena and Red Wings owner Bruce Norris was seriously considering the offer when the city of Detroit proposed a riverfront arena at one-third the rent that Pontiac was seeking, and a package including operational control of Cobo Arena and the adjoining parking structures. The Red Wings accepted the offer to move to the new Joe Louis Arena, which was completed 19 days ahead of schedule. The Olympia was considered to be a well-constructed building. Lincoln Cavalieri, general manager of Olympia Stadium, once said, "... if an atom bomb landed, I'd want to be in Olympia." Cavalieri, along with many in the Red Wings organization, were sad to leave it behind. On December 15, 1979, three days after the first event held at Joe Louis Arena, the Red Wings played their final home game at the Olympia, a 4-4 tie against the Quebec Nordiques. Attendance at that game was 15,609. The Olympia was included in part of the celebration of the 32nd NHL All-Star Game, which took place at Joe Louis Arena on February 5, 1980. Because a provision in the Wings' lease with the city of Detroit prevented the Wings from operating Olympia Stadium in competition with Joe Louis or Cobo Arenas for events, or selling the building for use as a competitive venue, the building was shuttered permanently, and demolished in September 1987. Overhead exit signs erected in the early 1970s along the Jeffries Freeway mentioning Olympia Stadium were taken down around 1980; the signs would be stored in the lower levels of Joe Louis Arena. Currently, the Michigan National Guard's Olympia Armory stands on the site. A historical marker is posted inside the armory commemorating the Olympia.

The building was 32.6 m (107 ft) tall and constructed of a steel frame faced with red brick with brown terra cotta and stone trim in a Romanesque Revival style. The Grand River and McGraw facades originally included 13 storefronts. Near the parapet were terra cotta medallions depicting various athletes. When it opened, Olympia contained the largest indoor skating rink in the United States at 242 ft (74 m) by 110 ft (34 m). The Grand River facade featured three-story arched windows with a large recessed arch in the center. The large arch originally was filled with black glass, however in later years it was covered with wood painted with the Red Wings emblem. Topping the facade was a pediment creating a gable-shaped roof. The arena had five levels. The ground level through which patrons entered and featured a concourse that circled the seating area. Above were the mezzanine, main seating level and balcony. A fifth level not open to the public was just under the roof trusses. The trusses spanned 186 ft (57 m) and were 90 ft (27 m) above the floor. The initial seating capacity was 11,563. On June 23, 1965, work began to add 81 ft (25 m) to the rear of the structure. The addition was four stories high and included additional seating and escalators to improve patron access to the upper levels. It expanded seating to 13,375 with standing room for 3,300 during hockey games. In addition to the new seats, the original 11,563 seats were replaced at a cost of $23 each and new boards and timeclocks were installed. While not one of the most decorative, architect C. Howard Crane considered Olympia one of his most significant buildings. He stated that the importance lie in the refrigeration system buried beneath the concrete. Within in the 77,393 sq ft (7,190.0 m 2) of available floor space were 74,880 ft (22,820 m) of piping. The system was replaced in 1967 and the final modification to the building was the addition of private boxes in 1970.


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