Detroit music critic’s review of new Red Wings arena seems not to understand what crowds are

The Detroit Free Press got to send its “pop music critic” (I swear, that’s his official title) on a tour of the Red Wings‘ new arena construction site this week, and you can read his report on how cool (the Red Wings say) it will be for concerts here. But really I just want to focus on its entry into the ongoing Bad Journalism Theater competition:

Joe Louis event-goers dogged by cramped concourses near concession spots and merchandise booths will find relief: The new arena will feature nearly double the number of purchase locations.

Sure, that reads like something the writer ripped from a press release and tacked an awkward transitional clause onto, but what is it even supposed to mean? “Cramped concourses” aren’t a function of how many purchase locations there are, they’re a function of, you know, cramped concourses. Unless the actual concourses themselves are more spacious — they certainly look nice on the renderings, but that doesn’t tell us much — putting the same number of people on twice as many lines in the same amount of space isn’t going to be any better, and leads to situations like this.

But really, the main lesson here is: Journalists, if you can’t fact-check your stats you get from press releases, at least sanity-check them. Even your mother could be bending the truth, after all.


3 comments on “Detroit music critic’s review of new Red Wings arena seems not to understand what crowds are

  1. The Freep’s music critic has a point. When I was in Sacramento’s arena the fact that there were so few concession spots caused crowding. More spots should allow the lines to be shorter at each spot.

  2. The notion that more concessions somehow increasing efficiency needs a lot more examination. I think my last trip to a minor league ball park (praised for its great selection of concessions) should give concern. Getting something to eat before the game was a nightmare even admittedly partly my fault. The problem with the concessions was that with all the choices you end up in many more lines. We had just 3 people and had to wait in 6 or 7 lines (3 different food lines, beer line, snack line, soft drink line, etc.). Also, it was very crowded and chaotic in that even if you knew there were good things to be had you had a lot of people “browsing” like us in the way of others trying to get somewhere. The architecture with giant support columns blocking the view of concession signage was also a problem. Admittedly part of my problem was trying to coral my kid when I did not know where I was going and everywhere there were lines and people milling.

    I notice that increased amount of beer options, while a good thing also means a lot more search to find the right concession that has that option. The point is when every concession has something different there is additional search time.

  3. Ben – Lines don’t cause a cramped concourse, a lack of floor space does. If you split one line into two without changing the amount of floor space, you still have a cramped concourse.