Detroit Free Press credits Red Wings arena for fixing blight that Red Wings owner created

The Detroit Red Wings and Pistons are about to open their new Little Caesars Arena (named after the Red Wings’ owners’ pizza company, which is actually a longstanding sports tradition), and the Detroit Free Press could not be more excited! On Thursday, reporters Frank Witsil, JC Reindl, and John Gallagher teamed up for a report on how the publicly subsidized arena and surrounding development promises to “breathe life into a part of Detroit that has long been considered a dead zone”; today, Gallagher is back by his lonesome to call the arena an “exciting new venue” for hockey and an “exciting new venue” for concerts, as well as a “major new attraction to the rapidly revitalizing greater downtown” and “a monument to Detroit’s sports and entertainment history.” Total number of citations across the two articles of studies of how past sports-based city “revitalizations” have gone, or even what the impact was or wasn’t from Detroit’s construction of nearby stadiums for the Tigers and Lions: zero.

All of which is pretty much par for the sports-media course, except for that, as the Detroit Metro Times pointed out after Thursday’s piece, calling the arena district a “dead zone” conveniently ignores what made it dead in the first place:

Well, of course the area was blighted. The Ilitches spent 15 years quietly buying up properties in the area. What interest did they have in developing any of them when (a) they knew they intended to flatten them for a new arena and (b) any investment in them would only cause land values to rise? Chris Ilitch said as much to The Detroit News.

In other words, Olympia is the main cause of the area’s deterioration. You don’t need to be an expert on Detroit development to know that. Even the uninitiated could pick up on the unintended irony when Chris Ilitch reportedly said, “It’s no coincidence that these areas to the north of I-75 are some of the most blighted areas of our city core.”

Metro Times goes on to note that a lot of the unblight that the Ilitch family is getting credit for doesn’t actually have a timetable for construction yet — or in their words, “mostly exists in the fevered imagination of Olympia executives — another example of information not appearing in this article.

The Freep opinion page did demur on one thing, at least: The arena’s official opening will take place next Tuesday, with the first of a series of concerts by confederate-flag-waving, Colin Kaepernick–hating rap-rocker Kid Rock, which editorial page editor Stephen Henderson calls “a sturdy middle finger to Detroiters,” who are 83% African American — though the greater metro area is 70% white, so maybe it’s just a beckoning hand to suburbanites, huh? (Editor’s note: Not all white Michigan suburbanites are fans of racist symbols of slave states. I know a couple.)

The Ilitches have responded with a statement that “Kid Rock has been a consistent supporter of Detroit, and the marketplace has responded accordingly to his appearances. Performing artists’ viewpoints in no way represent an endorsement of those viewpoints by Olympia Entertainment.” So there.

12 comments on “Detroit Free Press credits Red Wings arena for fixing blight that Red Wings owner created

  1. Well that’s not entirely true. When the Super Bowl came to town in 2006, the city rushed to demolish two skyscrapers in the area to make it “ready” for the Super Bowl and provide parking. By demolishing the one time home of Motown Records, they provided parking for a handful, or maybe up to a dozen cars during the Super Bowl:

  2. The Detroit media generally have been enthusiastic about this stadium project and that stadium project, and bubbled over with how much the Super Bowl was going to bring to the city…and displayed a curious lack of interest in investigating after the fact what actual benefits have accrued. I can’t imagine why.

  3. So is there any truth to the rumor that Olympia will change its name to “Omni Consumer Products” and take over operations of the Detroit PD?

  4. Neil, thanks for the scientific discovery that non-living beings (symbols) have feelings and can be prejudiced themselves. No swastika operated the death camps of the third Reich where my ancestors were murdered. The swastika is a noble ancient religious symbol that was corrupted by evil. Evil takes many forms and it isn’t the form that is corrupt, it is the evil person who was the executioner of my great grandparents and aunts and uncles in a concentration camp. Shall I hate all who consider themselves German?

    Also, surprised to hear there are still “slave states.”
    As a progressive, that upsets me greatly.

    I only enjoy reading your site for the information about stadium subsidies, not to be ridiculed for being born where I was in Mississippi after my Jewish family escaped during WWII … just as those who do not wish to be ridiculed for their religious, sexual, racial, or gender orientation or what the choose to identify themselves as.

    FYI…I don’t like Kid Rock either, and his rebel flag is upside down.

    • No disrespect meant to the people of the great non-slave state of Mississippi in the year 2017. Your state flag, though, does kinda suck.

      • Even if you get down to origin stories, the flag was created for the Army of Northern Virginia, which regularly massacred black soldiers instead of taking them as POWs and enslaved free blacks during their Northern invasions.

        It’s proper for the south to have some sort of regional identifier. That flag is awful, though.

        • Neil, you opinion of a flag is just that…an opinion formed by your own constructs. If you would like to debate flag design, I am ambivalent as I do not march with flags, or identify with those who do whether they be confederate flags, or rainbow LGBTQ pride flags. You have the right to stay out of Mississippi, if you so desire. Personally, my opinion is that the flag of Ohio is the worst, as it is not uniform.

          I visit your site daily as I find it very informative as I choose to live my life with limited influence from others, and choose to limit my influence equally.

          Ty, we could speak of a multitude of atrocities…committed on both sides of the civil war and throughout history. Perhaps you should educate yourself on the history of child abuse in the coal mines of the north well past the civil war, and the subjection of women and suffrage movement that persisted throughout the 20th century well past when minorities had voting rights. All events that happened before my family emigrated as refugees from Nazi Germany. However, you’re speaking of an offence which you did not commit and speaking about people who were not alive to be offended.

          Unquestionably, the greatest expansion of slavery was caused by Christopher Columbus’s ‘discovery’ of the new world…and yes, you can hate him for future enslavements, but then you could you also provide credit to him for the discovery of medicines, agricultural and technological breakthroughs?

          By your insinuation that everyone from the south identifies with a flag that is not official would correlate with Columbus being credited with flight at Kitty Hawk, and also plane crashes (and even the dropping of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima/Nagasaki) which is completely preposterous. I’m sure you can feel my eyes rolling as you read this.

          The idea of a regional identifier is great. Are there any other areas of the country that have “regional identifiers?” Umm…no. However, perhaps you can help everyone figure out another regional identifier instead of the confederate flag. Also, it seems that as a Jewish man you would suggest a regional identifier as well, maybe a yellow star of david on my chest? How about a pink triangle for LGBTQ inditifiers?

          It is apparent that you are well on your way to becoming a goose-stepping Nazi.

          • Sorry, I’m not clear from your rant whether “goose-stepping Nazi” is meant to describe me (which is allowed since sticks and stones, etc.), Ty (which would get this comment deleted under the “no personal attacks on commenters” rule), or some amorphous straw man (which would be allowable, I guess?).

            Commenters, please try to be more coherent when calling people Nazis, it will make moderating comments much easier, thanks.

          • “It is apparent that you are well on your way to becoming a goose-stepping Nazi.”

            Why, because he’s against the Confederate flag and thinks less of people who willingly and intentionally fly it in 2017?

            I really don’t understand your thought process here.

          • Sorry. All the rebels from the south during the civil war were dirty traitors who should have been hung from the highest tree in 1865.

            Robert E. Lee, Jeb Davis and the whole lot were traitors and are unworthy of respect and honor.

            And anyone who supports that heritage is unworthy of respect in the very least. The civil war was entirely the fault of those who motivated the slaver States to secede. And everything that happened during the war is a direct result of those treacherous actions.

            It is 2017 now. The south lost. Slavery is in the dustbin of history. One can only hope that one day, white nationalism and racism will join it.

  5. Even if this doesn’t qualify as a monument to to Detroit’s sports and entertainment history, it could still qualify as a monument to Detroit’s history of giving welfare to billionaires while stiffing it’s poor community in a truly shameless display of fecklessness (or worse).

  6. Actually the Cass Corridor has been a blighted dead zone for nearly 5 decades. Ilitch only started up buying up properties on the current arena site towards the late 90s. The Park Avenue and Eddystone hotel were available for anyone to buy and renovate for years and no one even considered touching them. So yeah this was an area of Detroit that pretty was a dead zone and without this arena there would continue to be nothing but hookers and drug addicts there. The Detroit Metro Times is a liberal hack paper so quoting them should be taken with a huge grain of salt. According to them people like Ilitch and Gilbert are evil. You know, self made millionaires who actually employ thousands of people in the city of Detroit.