Michigan Approves $450M Funding For Red Wings' New Downtown Arena Project
The Michigan Strategic Fund board yesterday "approved issuing" up to $450M in bonds to finance construction of a $650M project that will "include a new arena" for the Red Wings and other events in Detroit, plus $200M more to develop the 45-block area between downtown and Midtown, according to Tom Walsh of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. To move the project forward, the city, state and the Ilitch family-owned Olympia Development "must now complete a concessions management agreement that would commit to the Wings playing there for at least 35 years, with 12 five-year options to follow." Yesterday's approval was a "major step toward securing money for the arena district project, but the bonds still must be issued and sold." The approval "came by unanimous voice vote." Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder after the meeting "voiced his support for the project." When asked why taxpayers and city employees should support public funds for a sports arena at a time when Detroit is bankrupt, Snyder "defended the use of state-issued bonds, saying Detroit needs the tax dollars and jobs." The Detroit Downtown Development Authority would "own the arena and Olympia Development would operate and maintain it, much as the Ilitch organization has done with Joe Louis Arena" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 7/25). In Detroit, Louis Aguilar notes Snyder touted the $650M arena "as an example that big Detroit development projects will continue to move forward amid Chapter 9 bankruptcy." He added the long-term impact of the new arena will "create a better environment" for the city (DETROIT NEWS, 7/25).