by Liz Leamy
(29 January 2019) I’ve been in downtown Detroit since Friday afternoon attending and covering the senior singles, pairs and dance events at the 2019 U.S Championships and I must say, it’s been a really cool place and also a spot where things seem to be cooking socially, culturally and economically.
Detroit, a major American hub and home base for hundreds of thousands of workers, innovators and entrepreneurs, who were much of the reason it had successfully evolved into a Herculean hub during the 20th century industrial age, becoming the automobile capital of the country, that carried through to the early 2000s, seems to be undergoing a tremendous revitalization following a downward period in which the city had filed for municipal bankruptcy in 2013.
The historic buildings that make up downtown Detroit are visual delights characterized by big rectangle windows and designs that emanate a classic early to mid 20th century architecture style echoing a nostalgic time when this city was helping to establish modern America as a world business and economic leader.
Meanwhile, newer structures such Comerica Park, home base of the Detroit Tigers MLB baseball contingent (with its array of incredible tiger statues everywhere), Ford Field, venue of the Detroit Lions NFL football team, and the Little Caesars Arena, opened in August 2017 are incredibly impressive and echo an energy defined by tenacity, hard work, optimism and strength.
The Little Caesars Arena is a whole experience unto itself, as this state-of-the-art eight-story venue features seating for nearly 20,000 spectators and a Jumbotron that is nearly two to three times the size of any other one I’ve ever seen before.
Jeremy Abbott, the four-time U.S. champion who had spent years during his competitive career training in Detroit, said he was in awe of this facility.
“Let’s look at this arena, it’s amazing,” said Abbott.
Meanwhile, practically all of the people I’ve run into here have been friendly, patient and happy to chat.
At the same time, this contingent, who seem to be very proud of living and working in Detroit, have been super helpful in regard to giving directions around the venue and also offering tips for navigating around the city.
Individuals working at the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, hotels and coffee and retail shops, driving busses and buzzing about the Little Caesars Arena appear committed to the idea of doing their part in regard to helping rebuild this fascinating city so it arrives at a place where it is once again, prosperous on all fronts.
As a whole, those at these and other venues in Downtown Detroit, particularly the Little Caesars Arena, prove they are all about teamwork and achieving a level of excellence in what they do, rendering this as a very special American community.
The food hall at the Little Caesars Arena, for example, located in the underground area, is so outstanding that it has turned into a mandatory go-to place for all media members this week.
Everyday, this stopping ground features an extensive menu of delicious edibles such as steak, prime rib, salads, string beans, potatoes, gourmet chicken and mouth-watering pizza, among other things, all of which are worth every calorie.
Although this venue is so massive in size and slightly challenging to figure out (especially on the first day) in terms of understanding how to get around, it is worth enduring the ‘learning’ process in terms in every way.
Of course, with this being the first time that the U.S. Championships are being held in Detroit since 1994 (the year of the ill-fated Kerrigan-Harding incident which rocked the sport), the effects of the country’s top-ranked skaters competing here is significant on many levels.
“I think it’s amazing to have a skating event like this here,” said Abbott.
The skaters agreed.
“It was great to be here in this beautiful area,” said Madison Hubbell, who, along with her partner, Zachary Donohue, clinched their second consecutive U.S. dance title here and spent years training in the area before relocating to Montreal last year.
Hubbell added that the crowd at the Little Caesars Arena was also great.
“This was a good home crowd,” said Hubbell, who, with Donohue, scored silver at the 2018 World Championships. “A lot of our family was in the crowd [which was great].”
All in all, this Nationals was a win not just for the athletes, but also everyone else who seemed to be on hand at this all-important annual U.S. event, designating it as one for the books on many important levels, mostly as a result of the graciousness of the terrific Detroit crowd.