SBD/February 5, 2014/Facilities

Detroit City Council Approves Land Transfer To Red Wings As Arena Project Picks Up Steam

Detroit's $450M Red Wings arena is expected to anchor the district
The Detroit City Council yesterday, "in one of the largest land transfers in the city’s history," agreed to hand over 39 parcels of land near downtown to be transformed into a $650M "entertainment venue that will include a new arena" for the Red Wings, according to a front-page piece by Joe Guillen of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. The vote authorizes the city to "sell the public land for $1 to the Detroit Downtown Development Authority, which will own the arena and lease it for up to 95 years" to the Ilitch family's Olympia Development. A $450M hockey arena will anchor what is expected to be "development of residential, entertainment, retail and office buildings." Olympia Development, which will "develop and operate the arena on a stretch of mostly dormant land north of downtown, has projected it will create 5,550 construction jobs and sustain 1,100 permanent jobs, which is 440 more jobs than at the Red Wings’ current home at Joe Louis Arena." The "essentially free" transfer of public land is the city’s "chief contribution." As proposed, construction of the arena itself "would be 58% publicly funded and 42% privately funded." No Detroit general fund dollars "would be spent; the state is contributing the bulk of the public investment." Olympia has agreed to pay $11.5M "annually for about 30 years to help pay off the construction bonds." Olympia will "own the arena’s naming rights and will keep all revenues from arena operations, including parking fees and concessions sales" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 2/5). Officials said that the public within the next few months will "get to see what the arena will look like." In Detroit, Aguilar & Ferretti in a front-page piece note construction "could be completed" for the '16-17 season. Wilson said that the development would "host 400-500 events annually and draw an estimated 5 million to 7 million people" (DETROIT NEWS, 2/5).
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