Bridge


Detroit Ambassadors

Arena Name: Cobo Arena
Capacity: 12,191
Built: 1961
Address: 600 Civic Center Drive, Detroit, MI, 48226
Telephone No: (313) 567-7444
Last Game: 1991
Ice Surface Size: Regulation
Official Web Site: http://www.cobocenter.com/
Google Satellite: Click Here

OHL
Cobo Arena
Cobo Arena
What was the Arena Like?
Cobo Arena sits right beside the Joe Louis Arena in downtown Detroit, Michigan, on the shores of the Detroit River. It's attached to Cobo Hall, a convention center where the famous Detroit Auto Show is held every January. It's a brown, circular building and relatively nondescript. I was never inside, while it was still an arena, and in 2010 the arena interior was gutted and turned into an expansion/ballroom for the adjacent convention center. The only thing remaining of the original arena is the lobby area and one concession stand, which has been retained and converted into a food court for Cobo Hall.

Back in the day, the seating area was "U"-shaped and was therefore an ideal venue for concerts. Cobo Arena was the "Home of Arena-Rock" in the 1970's, with Motor City artists like Ted Nugent combining with out-of-towners like KISS and Aerosmith to shape the bombastic arena-rock sound.

Paul Smielewski says:
I went to a couple games at Cobo Arena the first season of the Ambassadors. Sight lines weren't bad, except for a few places. Much like America West Arena in Phoenix, it wasn't built with a floor large enough for a rink, so they removed a decent chunk of the first level. Coupled with the fact that it is a "C" shaped arena, with no seating on one end, this meant that many of what would be the best seats to watch hockey didn't exist. Like Windsor Arena just across the river, the front row seats on the west end of the rink were at least 10-12 feet above the ice surface.

The first level has three concourses; one on the floor level, underneath the seating bowl, one inside the bowl (strictly for traffic; no concessions), and one outside the bowl, beneath the second level, where the concessions stand. All of them were open to the public, which probably made security a nightmare. One infamous security lapse: the infamous incident where Nancy Kerrigan was attacked by Tonya Harding's husband and compatriots occured in the floor level concourse.

The second level began just barely above the first, 10-15 feet above the back row of seats and cantilevered out over the lower level. It also has two concourses, inside and out, the inside concourse breaks up the rake of the seats just like the lower level. On the whole, sight lines in the bowl were pretty good, not nearly as high up as, say, Joe Louis Arena. The claims to fame, besides being the home of the first American team in the OHL: the aforementioned US Olympic trials with Harding and Kerrigan; it was the home of the WHA Michigan Stags for a few short months; the table tennis tournament that marked the first athletic competition between the US and Communist China was held there; and Bob Seger's big breakthrough album, 'Live Bullet', was recorded during his concert there. With its small standard floor plan and lack of seats behind the stage area, Cobo has always been more of an auditorium and less of a stadium.

One last thing: Cobo didn't have a Zamboni, so the one from Joe Louis Arena would be driven out of the rink, turn onto Atwater Road, and driven to Cobo a couple times a day during hockey season. It may be torn down in the next few years, as the city has designs on expanding the convention center that it is attached to.

How To Get There

From the North: I-75 South to the Lodge (US-10). Follow the Lodge to the Jefferson/Joe Louis Arena Exit. This exit will lead you directly to the JLA/Cobo Parking Garage.
From the South: I-75 North to Rosa Parks Boulevard/Joe Louis Civic Center Exit. Turn Right on Rosa Parks, this will merge into Jefferson. Follow Jefferson to JLA/Cobo Parking Garage.
From East: I-94 West to the Lodge (US-10) South. Follow the Lodge to the Jefferson/Joe Louis Arena Exit. This exit will lead you directly to the JLA/Cobo Parking Garage.
From West: I-96 East to I-75 North to Rosa Parks Boulevard/Joe Louis Civic Center Exit. Turn Right on Rosa Parks, this will merge into Jefferson. Follow Jefferson to JLA/Cobo Parking Garage.
From Canada: Take tunnel from Windsor and turn left on Jefferson Ave. Follow Jefferson to JLA/Cobo Parking Garage.
What's it Used For Today?
Cobo Arena was used for the OHL game for only one year - the Ambassadors' inaugural season in 1990-91. The old arena, built for the Detroit Pistons basketball team in 1961, had been abandoned when the Pistons moved out to the cavernous Pontiac Silverdome in 1978, then on to the Palace of Auburn Hills in 1988. Cobo sat generally empty for a couple of years before the Ambassadors came to town. However, Olympia Arenas, Inc., who managed both Cobo and the nearby Joe Louis Arena, decided that maintaining two ice surfaces in downtown Detroit was too costly and the Ambassadors moved into the Joe for their second season, 1991-92. The team was to move again twice, to the Palace and to Oak Park Ice Arena before finally settling into the Compuware Sports Arena in suburban Plymouth, Michigan, as the Plymouth Whalers.

The arena interior was gutted in 2010 and converted into a ballroom for the convention center.

Feedback

If anything is incorrect or you have something to add, please e-mail me at Email and I'll update the guide.


 



Copyright Kevin Jordan 2002-16.
All rights reserved.
Last Revised: February 19, 2016