Detroit economic chief: Red Wings arena will take more public money

MLive has an interview up with Detroit economic development czar George Jackson, in which Jackson whines a bunch about the groups that tried to save Tiger Stadium, and are still trying to retain the old stadium site for baseball. (“They didn’t have the wherewithal and capacity to perform what they say they wanted to perform,” says Jackson, which doesn’t explain why he turned down an offer by Chevrolet to maintain the old ballfield for free.) More relevantly, Jackson also has some to say about future plans for a Red Wings arena and for the Tiger Stadium site.

First, on the Red Wings:

We’re going to move; we’re putting the financial pieces together as we speak. So from that standpoint, we’re moving; that’s how this works normally. We’ve got some base funding related to the legislation that was passed in the lame duck session, and now we’ll move on putting those final pieces together – both public and private…

Do we need two arenas (The Joe and a new Red Wings arena)? No. Let’s face it, arena’s don’t exactly make money. The arena (is making some money) with the parking. The one thing about the city is this: If everybody likes you, then that means you’re not doing anything and not getting anything done.

Did you find the actual news, buried Waldo-like in that wad of verbiage? It’s that the $650 million Red Wings arena-and-development plan would require additional public funds on top of the (roughly) $150 million that was approved by the state legislature in December. Jackson didn’t say how much public money, or where it would come from, but saying the remaining funding will be “both public and private” is certainly an indication that the public’s share is only going to rise.

And on the future of the Tiger Stadium site:

We’re working with the Parade Company as we speak, but at the same time the proof is in the pudding. But at the same time, we’re open to a mixed use; we’re open to a compromise. But sometimes these folks (critics of me, those advocates of saving the stadium when it was still up and using it for something else) act like it’s ‘everything we want or nothing.’ It’s kind of like the Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives; that’s what I’m getting from some of these critics about Tiger Stadium. I’ve been more than convenient and more than compassionate in regards to realizing their dreams. But also, I also like to keep things real and keep things realistic.

Realism: It’s not what it used to be.


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