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Tradition and innovation come together at Little Caesars Arena

Make no mistake about it: There is nothing small about Delaware North Sportservice’s food, beverage and retail operation at Detroit’s sparkling Little Caesars Arena, which opened in September 2017.

With the inclusion of a regular slate of concerts, the 865,000-square-foot home of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and NBA’s Detroit Pistons is on pace for more than 250 events in its first year, according to Tim Martin, Delaware North’s general manager at the venue.

Seemingly every inch of the meticulously planned Little Caesars Arena includes a nod to the history of the anchor tenants, the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons, with a perfect blend of forward-thinking technology. And much of the same is true for Delaware North Sportservice.

Delaware North, which has been at home in Detroit since 1930 as a partner of Major League Baseball’s Tigers, serves sports venue classics such as hot dogs, nachos, pretzels, peanuts, popcorn and beer — along with a robust concessions, suites, clubs and restaurants program.

The overall Delaware North food program — which includes Kid Rock’s Made in Detroit and The District Market, both of which feature street-side entrances — is also complemented by several technological innovations, including self-service kiosks, dynamic menu boards and The District Detroit mobile application, which allows guests to order food from their seat and pick up at an express window.

Each of the venue’s 65 suites feature induction cooking and heating stations, ensuring the chef-driven creations are good to the last bite. The innovative suites — which open into the arena bowl — all feature iPad-ordering capabilities, five flat-screen televisions and a gas fireplace.

Among other one-of-a-kind aspects of Little Caesars Arena are the Michigan First Gondolas, which were designed to allow for guests to entertain from the most unique vantage point imaginable. Perched above the action, the Gondolas give guests an experience that few venues today can provide. Delaware North’s ability to cater the space means fans don’t haveto miss a minute of the action.

In retail, meanwhile, the lighting in the 9,000-square-foot-plus Team Store switches between colors of the Red Wings and Pistons (depending on the day), while the entire wall displays quite literally flip around in satellite locations to change the merchandise from one team to the other.

But the operations at Little Caesars Arena go beyond music and sports.

During a recent Red Wings game — which requires about 850 associates — the catering team was simultaneously hosting the 2017 Michigan Venture Capital Association Awards Dinner. The 250-person event took place on the ice of the Red Wings’ practice facility, which is also located within the confines of Little Caesars Arena.

“We have truly hit the ground running,” Martin said. “We opened with back-to-back Kid Rock performances and have followed it up with regular hockey, basketball and concert programming.

“However, delivering a world-class catering experience during a Red Wings game proves my theory: This venue is a high-end sports car, and we aren’t quite sure just how fast it can go.”