Detroit’s bankruptcy filing raises questions about Wings’ arena plans

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The city of Detroit’s bankruptcy filing should not affect the Red Wings’ plans to build a new downtown arena, according to Brian Holdwick, executive vice president of business development of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp.

From The Associated Press:

Plans for an 18,000-seat arena were announced by the team’s owners and local economic development officials last month, although the new proposal still needed to be approved by the City Council and a handful of state and local agencies. The Red Wings said there will be $367 million in private investment and $283 million in public funds in the complex, which would also include residential, retail and office space.

Spending that kind of money on an arena — in a city where bankruptcy could mean laying off employees and scaling back basic services — could draw some public resistance. Holdwick said funding for the project would come from tax increment dollars that can’t be used by the city’s general fund anyway, so it’s not necessarily a zero-sum game between building an arena and easing Detroit’s financial pain.

But despite Holdwick’s opinion, the Red Wings have yet to comment on the city’s bankruptcy filing, which may suggest the club isn’t entirely confident that nothing has changed.

After all, in a place where so many people are facing economic hardship, spending millions of taxpayer dollars on a new arena for a pro sports team was already politically sensitive. After last week’s news, it may be even more so.