Red Wings opt out of lease, could go short-term

Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch didn’t wait till Tuesday’s deadline for deciding whether to renew his lease on Joe Louis arena, instead announcing yesterday that he was opting out of the lease effective next July 1. Instead, he will likely attempt to negotiate a new short-term lease on the arena, while simultaneously working on a deal to either renovate or replace the building.

From Ilitch’s perspective, this makes sense as a way of hedging his bets: He gets to keep working out a deal for a new arena, without being pressured to do so in a dismal economic climate for building arenas. What will be interesting now is whether Ilitch still gets a sweetheart deal for Joe Louis along the lines of what he would have gotten had he re-upped for 20 years, or whether Detroit drives a harder bargain knowing that he has few other options — unless you believe the rumors about moving to Auburn Hills and back again.

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