The Detroit Red Wings are looking forward to moving out of Joe Louis Arena and into a new downtown arena. Today, they offered up their renderings and plans for what they have in mind and what they’re hoping they can do for downtown Detroit.
As you can see from the image to the right, it’s not just a new arena they have planned but a full downtown makeover. As Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch said in the press release, he wants reinvigorate the city.
“It’s always been my dream to see a vibrant and energized downtown Detroit,” said Ilitch. “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.”
Ilitch wants to create a downtown sector with the arena as the focus but also to include restaurants, entertainment venues, and residential space as well with a target date to open the arena by summer 2017. Joe Louis Arena has been open since December 1979.
One of the sticking points for many regarding the new facility is the use of public money to make it happen. The latest plans by Ilitch and his company include tens of millions of his money for public infrastructure including lighting, sidewalk, green space, and streets.
They’re also bringing in at least $200 million in private investment to turn run-down blocks into areas for people to live and work and to build up the area around Comerica Park and Ford Field downtown.
It’s a bold project and with a 2017 target date it means construction will have to begin soon. Their hopes are to break ground this fall.
The Detroit Red Wings’ plans to build a new arena came under scrutiny thanks to them getting taxpayer money to fund the project. A recent financial report won’t be doing the team any favors for how things look on the surface.
Christine MacDonald of The Detroit News reports the team and owner Mike Ilitch may owe the struggling city up to $70 million thanks to an old provision in the team’s television contract as it concerns the city-owned Joe Louis Arena. As you might suspect, this isn’t going over well with city politicians.
“The Ilitches are a multibillion-dollar operation, and they are inside a city that is sinking,” said City Councilman Kwame Kenyatta. “(Mike Ilitch), I am sure, knows about this and should be forthcoming to help the city. Help us by writing a check, not by negotiating a new lease.”
Oh yeah, the lease. The team’s lease to play at The Joe expired in 2010. Since then, the team reportedly hasn’t paid rent nor property taxes to play there and the city hasn’t gotten their cut of concessions either. Whoops.
As George Malik of blog Abel To Yzerman says, however, Detroit’s financial problems are huge and what the Wings may or may not owe the city is just a drop in a very broke bucket. That said, perhaps the city should think about forking money over for a new building if they’re owed such a big stack of cash as it is.
While the Montreal Canadiens’ search for a new GM to replace Pierre Gauthier rages on, one hot name on their list is taking himself out of the running.
Detroit Red Wings assistant GM Jim Nill tells Ansar Khan of mlive.com that while he had discussions with Montreal, he won’t be the guy to take over the Canadiens.
“I had two great talks with Montreal; I was interested, they were interested,” Nill said. “But it’s not the right time.”
Nill says an illness in his family made it so now wasn’t the right time to make such a bold move. Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch gave the Canadiens permission to speak with Nill and given Nill’s track record over his 18 years in Detroit, he would make an outstanding candidate.
Now the Habs will turn their attention elsewhere with an unknown list of candidates for owner Geoff Molson and special assistant Serge Savard to work from. By now you’ve heard about Patrick Roy’s interest in working in the NHL and how his “cellphone is always on” in case someone wants to call.
Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch is loyal to Detroit. It’s where his teams play and his businesses are headquartered. It’s his hometown.
With that in mind, it shouldn’t be shocking that Brendan Savage reports Ilitich’s first choice for the 2013 Winter Classic was Detroit’s Comerica Park rather than Ann Arbor’s Big House. Ultimately, Ilitch acknowledged the obvious economic advantages of having about 115,000 fans vs. about 40,000, so the Big House won out.
It didn’t come without some major concessions, though – namely, all the events that will happen at Comerica Park. NHL.com’s Brian Hedger discusses what’s scheduled for the weekend of the 2013 event.
That rink will play host to a number of hockey-related events over a two-week span leading up to the big game in Ann Arbor — including the NHL Alumni Showdown, the tradition-rich Great Lakes Invitational college tournament, two games between Ontario Hockey League teams, one game between the American Hockey League affiliates of Detroit and Toronto, high school and youth contests and even an open skate.
Two rinks, one common goal: To celebrate the sport of hockey at all levels and make sure that Ilitch’s beloved hometown gets its share of attention and economic advantages from hosting what’s become an NHL signature event.
In other words, everyone wins – including the city of Detroit.
According to a report from Ansar Khan of Mlive.com, the 2013 Winter Classic is all set to take place at Michigan Stadium.
Khan reports that the game between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will be set to take place on January 1, 2013 at The Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He reports that Wings owner Mike Ilitch wanted to do the game at Comerica Park in Detroit, but the chance to have over 110,000 pack the stadium for the outdoor event was too alluring for the league to turn down.
To make things more Detroit-centric, a second rink will be built at Comerica Park to host the Winter Classic alumni game and possibly the Great Lakes Invitational, an annual college hockey tournament, as well.
Khan reports that the announcement of the game will be made official in February after the Red Wings return home from a four-game road trip through Phoenix and Western Canada.
If the report is true, and there’s no reason to think it will be disproved, the league would be better off making the announcement sooner than later. This past Winter Classic wasn’t made official until the season began and many of the facets of the game were poorly kept secrets, a fact Gary Bettman acknowledged when the game was made official.
This would be the first time a Canadian team played in the Winter Classic and given Toronto’s relative proximity to Detroit and Ann Arbor, holding the game at The Big House makes a world of sense because Leafs fans will crash the border in droves to attend the game.