SBD/December 5, 2012/Facilities

Ilitch Proposes Downtown Detroit Hockey Arena As Part Of $650M Mixed-Use Development

Ilitch through his company is asking for nearly $13M in state financing
Officials from Tigers and Red Wings Owner Mike Ilitch's Olympia Development Company yesterday said that they "intend to build a new downtown hockey arena as part of a $650 million mixed-use development that would be both publicly and privately financed," according to Bill Shea of CRAIN'S DETROIT BUSINESS. The project will include "residential, retail, office facilities and an events center." Olympia Development in a statement said the project "incorporates a significant private investment supplemented by existing dollars currently collected by the (Detroit Downtown Development Authority) supporting economic development and requiring no new taxes." No details were disclosed on "how much the Ilitches would spend and how much would come from DDA taxes collected from businesses within designated areas of the city." Olympia Development in the statement added the "exact location of the district has not been determined" (CRAINSDETROIT.com, 12/4). In Detroit, Martinez & Livengood in a front-page piece report Ilitch is "asking the state for nearly $13 million in tax money to help finance" the project. Olympia Development "offered no details on a timetable or additional financing for the 35-acre project." Yesterday it was "unclear ... how much legislative support the project would receive from Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican-dominated Legislature." Ilitch, who "paid for more than 60 percent of the construction of Comerica Park, has said getting financing has been a key snag in constructing an arena." A hockey arena to "replace the aging Joe Louis Arena has long been on Ilitch's wish list" (DETROIT NEWS, 12/5). Also in Detroit, Gallagher & Egan in a front-page piece note Ilitch as long ago as '93 "was hiring top-ranked architectural firms to create master plans for the district around the Fox Theatre," which he "purchased and restored in the late 1980s" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 12/5). 

CAT'S OUT OF THE BAG: The DETROIT FREE PRESS' Tom Walsh writes now that Ilitch "has finally declared his intent to build a new arena and other cool stuff in downtown Detroit, the debate can commence." People will "squeal about spending tax dollars on a hockey palace or some trendy downtown stores when Detroit can't keep the streetlights on." Other people, "just as passionately, will sing the praises of the Ilitch family for moving Little Caesars downtown when most other businesses were fleeing, and for reviving the Fox Theatre, and for spending money to make winners of the Red Wings and the Tigers." The great "paradox of Detroit is that it is widely perceived as one of the nation's worst places to live, yet it also occupies a unique place in the American culture." Walsh: "That paradox will play out for months amid the debate and speculation about the Ilitch development plans and how they will be financed." What the Ilitch "declaration does not do is provide any hint about whether Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores might someday be interested in sharing an arena with the Red Wings and moving the basketball team downtown from the Palace of Auburn Hills" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 12/5).

DOUBLE DIPPING? In Detroit, Drew Sharp writes the Red Wings are "long overdue for a new home, but the only way this entertainment district makes business sense would be if the Pistons are involved, ensuring more dates at the arena and improving the financial viability of restaurants, bars and retail outlets." Gores is a "very shrewd businessman and might have some negotiating leverage because the Ilitches will need the Pistons to make their vision work." Detroit can "no longer provide the necessary corporate backing for four professional teams in four separate facilities." Sharp: "It isn't economical. The consolidation of assets is the action that makes the most sense" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 12/5). Also in Detroit, JC Reindl writes under the header, "If New Home Built For Red Wings, Will The Beloved Joe Have To Go?" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 12/5).
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NHL, Facilities, Detroit Red Wings

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