Red Wings arena plan called “sham” at public hearing

Hey, it turns out the Detroit city council actually still gets to do stuff, even if its control of the city purse strings has been usurped by a state-appointed emergency manager. Yesterday the council held a public hearing on the $450 million Detroit Red Wings arena project that would get $261.5 million in city development subsidies, and public reaction, according to the Detroit Free Press, was “mixed”:

“Right now we’re in a bankruptcy,” said resident Joann Jackson, who opposes the arena deal. “I feel that there will not be any jobs. You all have said that about the casinos. You all have said that about the ballparks,” yet unemployment in Detroit remains high, she said.

Joel Landy, who owns more than 50 residential and commercial properties north of I-75, said the project should start without delay.

“We couldn’t fill this hole in for another 20 years,” he said. “However, we have to fund it. It’s important to our success.”

Tom Stevens, a member of the group Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management, said he opposes taxpayer support for the project, saying the economic spin-off benefits of sports arenas are not proven and any proposal that relies heavily on public financing “should be greeted with a great deal of public skepticism.”

He said that even with Detroit under control of an emergency manager, “What this shows is nothing has changed. It’s about public money for connected insiders.”

The Freep also quoted another downtown property owner who declared, “This whole thing is a sham” (he also criticized the Red Wings development site alongside two highways as being a place where suburbanites can “come into the compound, you can get out, and you don’t have to rub elbows with Detroit”) and a retired teacher who said the project would create jobs and said, “Let’s get it on.” But given that pretty much every council hearing ever has featured at least some people testifying on both sides, it’s tough to tell what the overall tenor was of the public comments.

The council also does apparently have some say in this matter, since even though it doesn’t have to approve the money, it does have to approve a new lease (or rather a “concessions-management agreement”) with the Red Wings before the project can go ahead. Again reading from the Freep, it sounds like councilmembers’ main concern is that Detroit will be compensated for any city land that’s used in the project, which shouldn’t be too high a hurdle. But at least it’s nice that Michigan hasn’t totally disenfrachised Detroit voters — just mostly.


3 comments on “Red Wings arena plan called “sham” at public hearing

  1. Anyone that takes road trips through America can go through cities that have stadiums downtown and see that they do absolutely squat to improve the economy and foot traffic there. In Detroit, traffic during Lions games is so horrendous that all you want to do is get out of there, especially if you have to go to work the next day. Also, Old Tigers stadium and the Joe are already in Detroit, so if they did little to improve the areas around them, what would a new location that pretty much is in the same area as the other ones accomplish?

    It is a sham. People have wised up.

  2. Would that people had wised up, Roger. Unfortunately we live in an age where if you tell a lie often enough, the people whom the public education system failed so badly in their youth will eventually believe that it is true… and further, that it has always been true.

    The “Swift boat veterans for truth” smear was a lie created by two draft dodgers to cast doubt on the relatively distinguished service record of the opposing candidate. I think pretty much everyone knew it was a lie… and it wasn’t even a very good one. But it worked.

    Strange world.

  3. We all know what’s going to happen. Ilitch will get his shiny new toy that he doesn’t need, taxpayers will end up paying for it even tho they can’t afford it & everyone suffers except Red Wings fans tho they will be paying much more in tickets prices.
    They honestly could have not picked a worse time to propose a new stadium. But it just shows you how crooked cities are. This line should make people angry & protest in the streets:
    “He said that even with Detroit under control of an emergency manager, ‘What this shows is nothing has changed. It’s about public money for connected insiders’.”
    …but they won’t. Even if it gets beyond a Facebook page or an online petition, trying to stop this is futile. Big Money will win.

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