The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/21/12 at 08:06 PM ET
Let’s see…I return to work after an excused but unhappy absence and the Red Wings waive and demote Ty Conklin, decide to remove the proverbial pebble from Pavel Datsyuk’s foot before it gouges a hole in removing “debris” from Datsyuk’s knee to ensure that he won’t be hobbling come playoff time, they bring back Kyle Quincey (something tells me Holland isn’t quite done yet), and, via Paul, Wings coach Mike Babcock, whose request for a Zamboni for Clark Park after Saturday’s outdoor practice almost makes you wonder which Ilitch cut the cheque for an ice resurfacer that afternoon, happens to let it slip that the Red Wings have big plans for downtown, and they involve more than building a much-needed follow-on facility to Joe Louis Arena.
Here’s what the Detroit News’s Louis Aguilar reports Babcock said on 97.1 FM:
“A new facility, no question,” Babcock said Tuesday morning on a 97.1 The Ticket sports radio talk show, when asked if he preferred that the Wings continue to play at Joe Louis Arena or at a new arena. If we want the city to come back, we got to revitalize downtown. And a big part of that’s going to be the new arena, and the mall and the stuff going around it,” he said. “And that’s very important. That’s why we need the state to jump onside. The sooner the better, if we’re going to revitalize Michigan. It’s got to start right here in Detroit.”
An Olympia Entertainment spokeswoman did not have an immediate comment.
Wings owner Mike Ilitch, billionaire founder of a pizza, sports and entertainment empire known as Ilitch Holdings, has said for more than five years that he wants to build an arena downtown for the hockey team. He has indicated that financing is one of the snags in constructing such a facility.
Ilitch received $115 million from the city of Detroit, Wayne County and corporate investors and paid the remaining $185 million when he built Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers, in the 1990s. The state financed infrastructure improvements. Economic experts and a Michigan pollster have said Ilitch won’t get as much public funding for a new hockey arena.
Babcock’s reference to “the mall” feeds into speculation that a shopping center might be connected to an arena development plan — particularly in the swath of blighted and empty properties from Woodward Avenue to Cass near Temple. There has been a real estate buying frenzy in the area, which is several blocks north of the Fox Theatre, headquarters of Ilitch Holdings Inc., as well as Comerica Park and Ford Field.
“Of course, everyone assumes this is where the new arena will be built, but now I’m hearing (developer Al Taubman) wants to build a mall next to the arena,” Temple Bar owner George Boukas said in October 2010, after he had turned down a bid to sell his establishment. The bar, at the corner of Temple and Cass, is in the middle of the mysterious land acquisitions. I know all that sounds crazy, but look at all that unbelievable stuff that’s gone on already. Someone is thinking big.”
As Aguilar suggests, everybody with their ear anywhere near the ground more or less knows that the Ilitches will probably build the follow-on rink—barring some City of Detroit, Wayne County, State of Michigan or other private assistance—on the plot of land adjacent to Woodward Avenue just north of I-75, which may or may not be a stop on the controversial M1 rail line.
Here’s 97.1 FM the Ticket’s blurb...
Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock wants his record-winning team to have a new place to call home, right in Detroit.
Babcock joined Stoney & Bill with Sara Tuesday morning, and talked about a number of different subjects, including the team’s league-record home winning streak, the depth of the team, and the upcoming game against the Blackhawks in Chicago.
Toward the end of the conversation, Sara asked Babcock to share his thoughts on the current state of Joe Louis Arena. She asked the coach if he would prefer The Joe be rehabilitated or replaced with a new arena.
Without skipping a beat, Babcock said he would prefer “a new facility, no question.”
“Detroit, if we want the city to come back you’ve got to revitalize downtown … A big part of that is going to be a new arena, the mall, the stuff going around it,” Babcock said, adding, “The sooner the better, if you want to revitalize Michigan, it’s got to start right here in Detroit.”
And here’s the interview:
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.