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Red Wings reveal plans for new arena


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Red Wings reveal plans, renderings for new arena to open by 2017

By Chris Peters / Hockey Writer

July 20, 2014 01:20 PM ET

The Detroit Red Wings could be playing in a new arena by 2017 if all goes according to plan. Olympia Development of Michigan, a subsidiary of Red Wings’ owner Mike Ilitch's Ilitch Holdings, Inc., unveiled their plans for a new sports and entertainment district, combined with existing and new developments to create five new mixed-use neighborhoods in downtown Detroit.

The centerpiece of this district would be the new home of the Red Wings.

“It’s always been my dream to see a vibrant and energized downtown Detroit,” said Ilitch in the announcement. “I want people to look at Detroit’s new sports and entertainment district and see what I see: the potential for something very special. I couldn’t be more excited and proud to bring this vision to life.”

The plans set forth are ambitious and are said to include a private investment by Ilitch Holdings of more than $200 million. The project is expected to cost $650 million in total, with the difference made up by public funds which has been a source of controversy.

Last July, the Michigan Strategic Fund board, which is part of the state's economic development agency, approved up to $450 million in state-issued bonds to help finance the project that would include the new Red Wings’ arena. Considering the severe economic woes of Detroit and the state of Michigan as a whole and the Ilitches personal riches, there's reason for the uneasiness.

No money is coming out of Detroit's general fund, but tax payers are going to help foot the bill.

According to the company, its private investment, which has been accelerated to get things started sooner than later, will also include helping build up public infrastructure and make improvements for things like lighting, sidewalks and streets.

“We’ve done business in Detroit for nearly 50 years, and this is our most significant and ambitious project here yet,” said Christopher Ilitch, Mike's son and president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, Inc.

“By accelerating our investments in important neighborhood infrastructure and new mixed-use development, we will stabilize and develop dozens of underutilized blocks, create more jobs more quickly and allow the city to spend public funds on other priorities."

When it comes to the Red Wings organization, the benefits of this project are numerous. The Red Wings have played in the increasingly outdated Joe Louis Arena since 1979, but claimed the league's second-best attendance in 2013-14.

Edit:

This has to be a tough sell to taxpayers

Edited by sarsippius
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  Tough sell to taxpayers but the hope is that it will revitalize downtown and bring more money in. Projects such as these invariably seem to go through cost overruns and to not produce as previously hoped with alarming frequency.

 

  That said, it is long past due. The old Joe is the oldest Barn in the league (my God I remember going to it as a teenager with my grandfather the year it opened!) and it is outdated and time to move forward.

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@yave1964  I remember the Joe being built like it was yesterday. It was the summer in between Grade 7 and Grade 8....I lived just one block from the river, and I used to bring my Spiderman comics and Hockey News down to the river and read while watching the cranes put the roof in place. It was very exciting watching the Joe being built!

 

 Geez, where would the city of Detroit be without Mr.Illitch and his seemingly unlimited wallet? A lot of people forget already, but when there was no cap in place, Mr.I would spend like a man possessed in pursuit of the Cup. That's not even mentioning the Tigers, his almost 200 million dollar a year payroll....the beautiful Comerica Park, all built with his own private cash. You can tell he *really* wants to win a World Series before he dies, the ol' codger deserves it...and more. Wow, did Detroit and Michigan ever get lucky when this guy was born!!

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@sarsippius 

 

I saw a few design drawings in a recent Detroit paper.  The arena will be fantastic, and is expected to set a new standard in arena architecture.  Although the the entire arena will be one giant complex, offices, training facilities, concessions, and the like will be housed in separate "buildings" which will be connected to the main playing venue by enclosed, glass-covered streetscapes, complete with trees.  The actual playing surface will be several feet below grade, which will  give the arena a lower profile, so it doesn't look like  a monstrosity in amongst the two- and four-story buildings already there.  

 

@yave1964  @jammer2

I understand that only about half of the development costs are going directly to the taxpayers.  The rest is coming from Illitch Holdings and the Michigan/Detroit economic development authorities.  This will be a huge step to help revitalize the area.  Detroit is truly undergoing a full-scale renaissance.  With some entire neighborhoods being bulldozed and cleared, the old joke of "Operation Etch-A-Sketch" is actually a reality.  All the rules have gone out the window.  I truly hope it works though.  The rest of the country is watching Detroit to see what happens.  If it works, Detroit could be one of the most important cities in the country, as it was back in the 50s.  The Illitches have always been a Detroit-based family and will always remain loyal, and they're not afraid to spend their net-worth of $3.6 Billion to help the city regain it's former glory.  Not bad for a few folks selling $5 Hot 'N' Ready's    
 

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@WingNut722  Very nice idea to have the ice below ground. A huge building would destroy the effect they were going for with the 3-4 story buildings. Can't wait to see a pic of this thing. This arena and Comerica will be lasting shrines to the Illitch family. Mr.I is the best owner ever for any sport. Never injects ego into the picture, hires great people and lets them do their jobs....he is just there with the wallet whenever the Wings or Tigers GM needs an upgrade. If there was no cap, Mike would have had a few more Cups on the mantle. Mike is like you or I as huge fans owning the team....just want's to win badly and realizes he can't take the cash with him. Just a classy wonderful human being. Will be a sad day when he passes.

 

 Passing thought...are some players avoiding signing long term contracts with the Wings because Mike Illitich is in bad health? I guess he's not doing so well, and has only been seen in public twice in the past 18 months. If the Illitch's don't own the Wings (assuming his wife sells...not sure about this)....then who does...and will they want to win as badly as Mike? Just a thought.....

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No money is coming out of Detroit's general fund, but tax payers are going to help foot the bill.
as bad as the economy is in detroit this takes real big brass balls to ask the tax payers for 1 dime
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as bad as the economy is in detroit this takes real big brass balls to ask the tax payers for 1 dime

 

 I agree, you have cops and firefighters getting their wages cut, their pensions reduced.....people that go out and risk their life for a living.....so asking the taxpayers to foot any type of arena/ luxury item is a tad crazy considering the state of the city. There are literally thousands of streetlights not working, either burnt out and the city can't afford to replace the bulbs, or the guy who had the job of installing the bulbs is now unemployed.

 

 Just wondering.....betcha Kwame Kilpatrick (the disgraced Detroit Mayor, who is now serving a 15 year term for corruption and basically stealing from the hard working tax payers) stole a LOT more than what they proved. This guy flat out used the Mayor's seat for a get rich quick scheme....bastard thought he was untouchable. He will do his time, then go unbury the bag of gold and live happily ever after....SAD.

 

 Re:Arena....If the city of Detroit really wants to make a comeback bid....well, it takes money to make money as the old but true saying goes. They badly need to revitalize the cities core, and this project could be a huge move in the right direction. I'm hearing about open air markets (veggies...not crack...LOL), that sounds promising also.

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@WingNut722

 

I hope this does have a "spillover" effect on the surrounding area and help create a destination spot. I've never been to Detroit so I only know what I read, but from the sounds of it times are about as tough as they can get. Largest municipal bankruptcy in US history, the disappearance of the manufacturing sector and its jobs, flight to the suburbs eroding the property tax base...

 

I'll admit I am not a fan of taxpayer funding for sports palaces, but it is the norm, it just never seems to give the return on investment that is promised. It's just a different form of corporate welfare like the tax credits and property tax abatements the big boys all get for putting up a plant or corporate headquarters. I'm not attacking this project, just speaking in general terms.I wasn't a fan of the Phils and Eagles raiding the taxpayers either. Here's hoping this a positive step for Detroit

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 Re:Arena....If the city of Detroit really wants to make a comeback bid....well, it takes money to make money as the old but true saying goes. They badly need to revitalize the cities core, and this project could be a huge move in the right direction. I'm hearing about open air markets (veggies...not crack...LOL), that sounds promising also.

 

Agreed.  You need to invest in order to receive.  I'm not informed enough to weigh in on cuts to public services, etc., but the investment in the arena is a step forward to get some business in there to revitalize at least one portion of the city.  Bars, restaurants, hotels, shops...anything will generate more tax revenue than abandoned houses.  

 

There has been a lot of talk about options on how to use the now-abandoned and open space within the city limits.  There is even talk about going back to farms.  That's right...FARMS!  The City of Detroit could be rewinding back 200 years without that bothersome natural disaster!

 

@sarsippius

Detroit indeed is in desperate times.  It's real tough over there.  The city limits are so widespread that the limited resources can't control them all.  Whole sections, whole neighborhoods are now in the dark because the city can't afford to keep the streetlights on at night.  Not a whole lot of security for the very few families who still maintain a residence there, but then these neighborhoods are only about 3-5% occupied.  The City hasn't decided to buy out these folks' houses, but then these folks may not want to move.  

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Agreed. You need to invest in order to receive. I'm not informed enough to weigh in on cuts to public services, etc., but the investment in the arena is a step forward to get some business in there to revitalize at least one portion of the city. Bars, restaurants, hotels, shops...anything will generate more tax revenue than abandoned houses.

 

 Exactly, it's all about improving/increasing the tax base. That area around the arena, which used to be a barren wasteland is about to get a cash infusion of epic proportions. Where people congregate, you will find businesses that are looking to capitalize on the fact more people are in the area. Everything from tailors, convenience stores, grocery stores, dry cleaners...you name it, they will pop up....resulting in a revitalized core and a place where people like to interact with others.

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