A new Red Wings arena would anchor a 45-block retail/housing/entertainment development in downtown Detroit under a plan already approved by the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.
Mike Ilitch and family, owners of the Red Wings, are already major stakeholders in downtown Detroit with the ownership of the Detroit Tigers and management deals for the Fox Theatre and the MotorCity Casino. Those holdings, along with Comerica Park and Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions, would be leveraged as part of a larger, more expansive development that would transform an extremely run-down area into something new.
The proposal is very extensive and much more ambitious than other development proposals for downtown Detroit. While the construction of Comerica Park and Ford Field did bring new visitors to downtown Detroit, it became apparent that both facilities attracted suburbanites who spent money at a game and then left as soon as possible. By focusing on residential and office usage as part of a development anchored by a Red Wings area, the feeling is that investment in the arena would play out in a larger development keeping money in the city.
The 650,000-square-foot, 18,000-seat arena is to be built in a dilapidated patch of the city’s Cass Corridor, just north of downtown. The project’s borders are Woodward on the east, Cass to the west, Temple on the north and 1-75 to the south.
The proposed 45-block area, described as an “entertainment district,” also will include retail, office and residential space, a hotel and parking buildings. It generally reaches from Grand Circus Park to Charlotte between Woodward and Grand River.
The public, through an economic development fund, will pay $283 million toward the project, and $367 million will come from private funding sources — a 44-56 percent split. But officials emphasized there will be no new taxes, and the money won’t come out of the city’s battered coffers.
One intriguing part of this development: though no official renderings have been released, it’s been reported the design of a new arena could be partly based on the Olympia (shown above), the longtime and fondly remembered former home of the Red Wings. No one, as of yet, has argued basing the arena design on Joe Louis Arena.