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The Malik Report

Red Wings overnight report: Ilitches must deliver on their rink-and-entertainment-district promises

Updated 4x at 9:32 AM, updated incredibly substantially with Crain's reports and official renderings, and then with the gist of a Petr Mrazek interview: Sometimes doing this blogging thing is like waiting for battle, especially when the Free Press decides to delay its anchor stories until 5 AM (as per usual on Sunday). You try to keep yourself busy, you try to look for any ancillary hockey news that might pop up (happy 36th birthday to Pavel Datsyuk and happy belated wedding day to Jordin and Jennifer Tootoo)...

And you wait for the deluge. In this morning's case, it's a deluge of stories regarding the Red Wings' follow-on rink and the surrounding economic development, first provided by the Free Press; Crain's Detroit Business will publish its stories about the rink sometime after I go to bed, and I'm sure that this officially official unveiling of the plans will echo through MLive, the Detroit News, Macomb Daily and the local TV stations over the next week or two.

The most important confirmation comes simply via the Freep's "Ilitch Development Timeline," confirming that Joe Louis Arena has two or three seasons to live:

2014: The Ilitches announce a new multipurpose arena for the Detroit Red Wings as well as concerts and other events. The arena is part of a much broader sports and entertainment district that will break ground in fall 2014. The first pieces, including the arena itself and hundreds of residential units, are slated to open in late 2017.

The concept revolves around "5 new neighborhoods" that the Free Press's Joe Guillen reports will "anchor" the rink, including a massive development of the Cass Corridor--now to be called the "Cass Park Area," an arena district in itself, and the "Columbia Park Area," which will finally see the razing of the empty buildings littering the landscape behind the Fox Theatre (this is where the $200 million in ancillary development funds has to yield a return on the $650 million development, which is being paid for by State of Michigan bonds raising around $364 million [56% of funding] to be repaid by Downdown Development Authority funds, and $286 million [44% of funding] paid by the Ilitches):

“We’re announcing to the community the formation of five new neighborhoods in this district,” [Ilitch Holdings President and CEO Chris] Ilitch told the Free Press on Thursday. “We’re going to step forward and help guide the launch and formation of these neighborhoods so they do take on a distinct character and have the characteristics that people are going to want to live in.”

Ilitch said the organization will spend “tens of millions” on public infrastructure — paving, landscaping, new parks and streetlights — throughout the new neighborhoods in addition to the commitment for $200 million in private investment for mixed-use developments around the arena.

Among the neighborhoods:

Cass Park Village

■ Geography: Bounded by Grand River Avenue, I-75, Cass Avenue and Charlotte Street, the area encompasses Cass Technical High School and Masonic Temple theater.

■ The vision: Energetic, creative, cutting-edge community that could provide the 35-and-under set with a genuine urban experience. “This is where the frontier people might want to go,” Ilitch said. “The thing that folks love about Detroit is it’s real, it’s authentic, and it’s even a little bit gritty in spots.”

Arena neighborhood (no working title)

■ Geography: Bounded by Cass Avenue, I-75, Woodward Avenue, Charlotte Street, it’s the area where Harry’s bar is currently located near I-75, and then north.

■ The vision: A neighborhood that exudes a fully immersed hockey experience, with residential, office and retail spaces. The new retail offerings will focus less on national brands and more on restaurants and bars. “It’s going to be local hot concepts from the city, the region, maybe the Midwest,” Ilitch said.

There's no doubt that the entire project is something of a legacy affair given that Mike Ilitch is 86 as of today and Marian Ilitch is 82, and the Free Press's John Gallagher reports that Christopher, the man who will be running the ship for decades to come, hopes that this project lives up to the gigantic expectations it must deliver upon:

“Our vision is to build out a sports and entertainment district that is world-class and rivals anything in the country, perhaps the world,” he said. “We’re not just building a hockey arena. It’s really about the district.”

The large-scale development, overseen by the Ilitches’ Olympia Development, will be integrated with the planned M-1 Rail line, Comerica Park, Ford Field, the Fox Theatre, MotorCity Casino Hotel, the Detroit Opera House and other attractions. The arena and various buildings and residential projects will be built on what are now mostly vacant lots encompassing dozens of blocks along and near Woodward Avenue.

Unlike other similar projects, the still-unnamed arena and a big portion of the entertainment district will be built at the same time, rising up together.

I'm inerested in the fact that the rink's not going to be 18,000 seats anymore--we're looking at a 20,000-seat facility, and it appears like the Ilitches are at least going to partially address the parking issues

In addition to a more-than-20,000-seat arena, plans call for new residential buildings and dozens of restaurants and retail, as well as a hotel, new parks and streetlights, and other remade infrastructure. Ilitch said the area will offer an intimate, festive air that he compared to European cities known for their street life.

New retail connected to the arena structure will be open even when the arena is not in use, featuring a first-ever design for a glass-covered streetscape inside the complex with trees and other urban amenities. The below-ground-level playing surface and sleek building design are meant to give the arena a human scale unlike more imposing and monolithic arenas in many cities.

Cue the legacy part...

Mike Ilitch, the family patriarch who turns 85 today and con-founded with wife Marian the family’s pizza, sports and entertainment empire, said in a statement: “It’s always been my dream to see a vibrant and energized downtown Detroit. I want people to look at Detroit’s new sports and entertainment district and see what I see — the potential for something very special. I couldn’t be more excited and proud to bring this vision to life.”

Arena plans announced earlier called for development to grow up around the arena over ensuing years. But the Ilitches decided to do it all at once: A large part of the infrastructure and construction associated with the retail and residential projects will rise out of the ground along with the arena — and be ready by 2017.

And the dazzling job-creation numbers:

Christopher Ilitch said construction of the residential units, restaurants and other new development around the arena was moved up because of its importance to Detroit. He estimated the development would create at least $1.8 billion in total economic impact over several years, 8,300 construction and construction-related jobs, and 1,100 permanent jobs.

The rink itself is almost treated as an afterthought--most likely because its design hasn't totally been finalized--but the Free Press offers an Olympia Development and Dennis Allain-provided picture (as part of a larger conceptual photo gallery which includes a concept photo of the inside of the rink) that lights up the night:

Image courtesy of Olympia Development and Dennis Allain Renderings, via the Detroit Free Press

Amongst the Free Press's Gallagher's list of facts about the heart of the project:

■ Deconstructed design: Most arenas are built as a big box with the playing surface and seating ringed by concourses, concession stands, team offices and restaurants. But the new arena will be “deconstructed” with the outer-ring functions moved into structures just set off or pulled away from the core inner playing surface and seats. They won’t be separate buildings, but linked by a first-ever interior streetscape.

That's going to make sightlines interesting. The reason people flock to a rink that is essentially built at the end of the Lodge Freeway and crammed into the back end of Cobo Hall, the reason people put up with the cramped seating, never-enough restrooms and dank and sometimes musty circumstances involve the absolutely fantastic sightlines that Joe Louis Arena provides from the first row to the last row--even in section 227B, where you have to stand up to watch the game from the final row of seats.

This is where the Ilitches clearly want the rink and its surroundings to be the antithesis of the Joe, where you either eat somewhere else before the game or you eat somewhere else after the game and you're at the rink from 6:30 until just after the game ends, and then you haul your rear end back to "somewhere else":

■ Glass covered streetscape: The area between the seating bowl and the outer buildings will be covered by glass to create a “covered via,” or interior streetscape, filled with trees, retail, dining and other amenities. Bridges and walkways will connect the outer buildings to the seating bowl through this covered interior street.

Here comes the Sochi effect:

■ Lighted roof design: The roof of the arena will be fashioned with the most modern programmable lighting so that different images can be produced for a given event. In the rendering provided by Olympia Development, the roof shows the Red Wings logo as it will on hockey nights. But the roof could be green for St. Patrick’s Day or something else for a concert by Kid Rock or Eminem, Ilitch said. He described the desired effect as “classy, not gaudy.”

And the most important part?

■ Playing surface: The playing surface will be set about 32 feet below ground level to lower the profile of the building, producing a more human-scale environment in the district where most buildings will rise just two to four stories. That follows the practice at Comerica Park and Ford Field, where the playing surfaces were set below ground level.

The actual playing surface at the Joe is on ground level, and the "basement" of the rink is actually the ground-floor-story part. There's a reason you have to hike up all those stairs or funnel through the one handicap-accessible entrance to get in and out of the rink. 32 feet = somewhere between two and three stories below ground, which in its own way, carves out space to both create an open arena floorplan, this whole "via" concept, and enough space to place the "guts" of the facility and to design and build a larger and more spacious set of locker rooms, a ull-sized training facility (the Wings' gym is...cozy) and amenities for musicians and entertainers who use the facility tos et up shop.

That is what this is about, after all--it's not just the rink, it's about changing the paradigm from the Palace being better and more modern than the Joe to the follow-on rink (unnamed, of course; expect a corporate sponsor's name to adorn the facility) to shifting focus back toward holding premier events downtown.

As a hockey fan, that's where I sure as hell hope that the Ilitches are going to spend a significant amount of money on refrigeration units and ice-making capabilities that will allow the facility's playing surface to remain more Joe Louis Arena than Air Canada Centre (i.e. even in the most modern facilities, if they're "multi-use," the ice tends to be shitty).

Aside from the inside hint image, which seems to suggest that we're looking at a 2-bowl rink separated by a concourse level and a suite level in the middle, the Free Press really shifts focus to the larger construction project.

Gallagher discusses the fact that the Ilitches could either rebuild the I-75 overpass at Woodward or even build some sort of pedestrian-friendly structure that spans the freeway, and J.C. Reindl discusses the residential aspect of the commercial-and-residential development:

Apartment hunters could have as much reason to cheer as hockey fans when construction starts this fall on Detroit’s new arena project.

Included in plans for the $200-million entertainment district are hundreds of market-rate rental units in at least four new mid-rise buildings that are set to go up around the arena as well as near Comerica Park. The apartments are expected to be ready for tenants by summer 2017.

The precise number of units is still being determined and is anticipated to exceed 500. As the district attracts interest from other housing developers, the number of new units in the footprint could reach 2,000 within a decade, according to Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings.

Eyebrow raised:

The Ilitches’ Olympia Development plans to develop two residential buildings between Woodward and Comerica Park where there now are parking lots. The buildings would contain about 300 units altogether, and each would have ground floor space for restaurants or retail.

A new parking garage would be built for the tenants as well as game day crowds.

Two more residential buildings also would go up around the new arena. Renderings show how one of the structures would adjoin the south side of the arena and could feature loft-style apartments.

Given that the Free Press reminds us that the Ilitches will be keeping all of the revenues from the Downtown Development Authority-owned and leased-to-the-Ilitches rink (i.e. they're not paying property taxes, either), it reminds us that the development had "shortcomings" in terms of concrete community involvement promises, and the Free Press sends us to an earlier editorial criticizing the lack of community involvement, it should come as no surprise that Gallagher also reports these details about the development...

■ Home-grown labor: The Ilitches plan has committed to a goal of buying 80% of construction materials from Michigan suppliers when possible. This is in addition to their previously announced goals of hiring 51% of all construction workers from among Detroit residents and getting 30% of all subcontractors from among Detroit-based firms.


■ Internships: To help the broader community, the Ilitches have committed to starting an internship program for Cass Tech High School students to work in the family’s business network, and to lend its development expertise to groups working elsewhere in Detroit’s neighborhoods.

And Joe Guillien reports that the Ilitches "pledge frequent meetings with [the] community" throughout the construction of the rink and surrounding economic development:

Ilitch, whose family owns the Red Wings, said the organization developed an extensive strategy to communicate with neighborhood leaders and promote job opportunities for Detroiters as it embarks on a bold vision to overhaul neighborhoods surrounding the arena with an infusion of restaurants, bars, apartments and new infrastructure.

The company’s development plans have not been shared with the community yet.

But Ilitch pledged to meet frequently with a neighborhood advisory council elected in April to work with the developer on issues such as arena construction, security, historic preservation and local hiring.

“Our belief in that (community) input is integral to the success of this,” Ilitch said. “It won’t be successful otherwise.”

Skepticism? "You can has it":

Eric Williams, vice chairman of the advisory council, said developers so far have followed through on their intentions to keep the community informed. But Williams said some residents in neighborhoods surrounding the arena are skeptical.

“The community in general, I think, is skeptical of a lot of major development, given the history of developments in the city,” he said. “There’s always a little built-in skepticism, but I don’t think it’s unwarranted."

Nothing like this has ever been done with the kind of community input or accountability that the Ilitches are promising before.

The Downtown Development Authority and its parent Detroit Economic Growth Corp. have a fantastic track record of delivering building projects on-or-before-time and at-or-under-budget--they may be the only quasi-governmental organization in all of Wayne County to make good on the promises they make with the diverted property tax dollars (from DDA-area businesses) that they spend--but the Ilitches really have to make good on a crapton of gray area promises made that they're not legally required to deliver upon.

In the land of Coleman Young, Ed McNamara, now Bob Ficano and of course dear Comrade Kwame, every Michigander has a right to be skeptical, and if I was an owner of a business that was going to be razed for the facility's construction or I was a resident, you'd better believe that I'd be wary of grand claims...

But if I may be blunt, there's so much riding on this that the Ilitches can't *#$%@& this up, and if things get *#$%@& up along the way--and they will--things will have to "get fixed" in a community-accountable manner in a hurry.

The Free Press's special report ends with a de-facto editorial from Stephen Henderson, who offers this assessment of the project as a whole:

for government and other leadership in Detroit, there are much deeper issues to contemplate — things that have both great potential and possible pratfalls.

The first is the promise itself, a grand, sprawling scheme of development that would fill in the mostly dead space between downtown and Midtown.

It begins with the new arena but would stretch as far west as Grand River and north almost to Martin Luther King Boulevard. The Ilitches envision five “neighborhoods” growing up inside the area, each with a distinct character.

That’s not entirely their call, though. The mayor’s office, the City Council and many community groups should have at least as much say about what goes on around the new arena, and they need to have an eye toward development that will benefit other areas and institutions in the city.

Should there be more public spaces or other kinds of development in the zone? Should there be tax increments that provide funding for things like schools, other infrastructure or police and fire? These decisions need to be made through democratic processes that allow Detroit residents to have a say. That’s especially key since a few hundred million dollars in public money will help build the new arena, and because that deal was forged without a community benefits agreement.

In addition, there is some reckoning that needs to be done of the family’s long-tenured ownership of many properties in this area. They held on to property while the neighborhood deteriorated — arguing, convincingly, that the time and economic conditions weren’t right for development — but now promise to move forward with what they own. Promises have been made before, some kept (think Fox Theatre) and some not realized (think Detroit’s Wrigleyville).

It’s government’s job to have a plan ready, both to work with the Ilitches and to serve as a backup in case they don’t deliver — a plan that still moves the area, and the city, forward.

And that's where it could all go off the rails. Even under Mayor Duggan, the last set of City Council elections, which actually made councilors accountable to specific districts, and the Council has turned into a slightly more functional version of the old one; i.e. the councilors are still far more concerned about what they can do to obstruct progress until they can get involved in such a way to benefit themselves or their business and/or political partners, and in Wayne County, no-bid contracts, preferential treatment and political executives sitting on boards awarding public-money deals to companies they have stakes in, all of that is routine as routine can be.

Is this a grand vision, as grand a vision as relocating to the then-derelict Fox Theatre was in the early 80's? Is this as grand a vision as turning the Red Wings around, or building Comerica Park?

Definitely, but Henderson duly notes that Comerica Park was supposed to turn the surrounding neighborhoods into a "Wrigleyville"-style neighborhood, and instead, it's this, "Well, we'll start with the rink and go from there" development that's promising to fill in a lot of the holes left in terms of community promises not delivered upon by the Ilitches the last time they were given hundreds of millions of public dollars.

That can't happen again. If that does, building the best rink with the best sightlines and the best ice and the best possible facilities with which to attract premier free agents won't mean diddly squat.

If the Cass Corridor remains the Cass Corridor, if the near Matty Moroun-style desolation behind the Fox Theatre that's been behind the Fox Theatre since before the Ilitches came downtown remains only partially-developed, and if the Ilitches and Olympia (Tom Wilson, your life's work, part 2 has arrived in earnest) give in to the festering pool of corruption that remains at the foundation of City, County, and more and more, State government in the post-Citizens United era, where Canada's literally fronted the money to build a second Detroit River span, but a smattering of $1,000 donations from Ambassador Bridge owner Moroun can still delay the push for customs plaza funding by years...

All of this will be an incredibly expensive and incredibly-flawed vanity project turned into Swiss cheese.

Henderson wisely concludes with the following:

[W]e’ve been here before in Detroit, staring up at ambitious plans, needing to match them with effective execution. It will take hard work — by the Ilitches, by the city, by the neighborhood groups that should have their say — to make sure the right things happen this time.

And to make sure that all Detroiters stand to benefit.

The residents of Wayne County and the State of Michigan, too.

The talk of European-style neighborhoods is wonderful, but when our State legislature refuses to pass any sort of realistic funding increase for our cluster****ed roads because "it's an election year," and the "new and improved" City Council kicked off its tenure with a backroom president-installing deal...

We all ought to be skeptical and we all ought to hold the Ilitches to the standard that they hold their players.

"To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Expected," that's what the Wings see as they walk out of their locker room.

Now that applies to an organization that's been entrusted with over $350 million in public funds.

The Ilitches have been in the pizza business for over 50 years, and now they have to work incredibly hard to perfect their most important delivery ever.

Update: Okey dokey, Crain's Detroit Business has delivered a better picture of the follow-on rink from overhead, as it were...

Image from Crain's Detroit Business

And Bill Shea's work appears to headline their sextet of stories:


Parking is my biggest worry. When the Lions and Wings are playing on the same day, on those rare occasions when the Lions, Tigers and Red Wings will all be playing, when there are shows at the Fox or the Filmore, etc., if the Ilitches don't build a dedicated parking structure as part of their economic development, it's going to be a nightmare to find parking anywhere within walking distance of the rink.

Crains has "Interactive Panoramic" in Shea's main article, "Detroit Rink City."

Shea lists the funding breakdown--$262 million of the $450 million rink will be paid for via public funds, the Ilitches will keep all revenues from the facility and its naming rights, and the rink project focuses on this whole concept of a "deconstructed design" with glass roofs (who will sweep them in winter?):

“We’re in love with the detached structure concept,” Ilitch said, calling the design “revolutionary” and saying it may influence arena design in the future.

Olympia and Red Wings team offices will be connected to the arena, as will apartments, restaurants, retail, parking garages and other to-be-decided development. Concessions will be under a glass-covered ceiling around the venue, and a special emphasis in restaurant planning is a push for up-and-coming local chefs, including minority chefs.

The lower seating bowl and playing surface will be 32-34 feet below street level (Comerica Park is 27 feet below grade), which also means the building will not be a massive, foreboding facility that towers above everything else in the neighborhood, Ilitch said. The arena may stand no more than two or three stories tall, with the entrances funneling onto the concourse level.

"It won’t be imposing to its neighbors,” Ilitch said.

Building a below-grade bowl is costly compared to an arena built from the ground up.

“It’s much more expensive to build to the depth we’re talking here,” Ilitch said. “We’re not going to scrimp.”

This is really important:

The designers are attempting to keep the loud and intimate atmosphere of city-owned Joe Louis Arena, the Red Wings’ home since it opened in 1979, but the new venue must follow the disability access and other laws that govern today’s facility designs, Ilitch said.

“Internally, we’re referring to it as one of the ‘baddest bowls’ in the NHL,” he said.

Shea continues, listing the architects and contractors, he notes that the M-1 Rail line will have a stop in front of the arena, and Shea really goes in depth like nobody but he does--and it should be noted that the Ilitches plan on paying any cost overruns themselves.

The inside looks..intriguing...

Image from Crain's Detroit Business

Shea breaks down the financial parameters by which all of Detroit's sports teams operate, including the new "numbers" for the Wings...

New Red Wings arena

Cost: $450 million

Team: Detroit Red Wings

Seats: About 20,000

Opens: Summer 2017

So that's three more seasons for the Joe, 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17...

Owner: Detroit Downtown Development Authority

Naming rights: Olympia Development of Michigan retains the right to sell the name. No decision has been announced about when or if that will occur.

How it will be built: $450 million in Michigan Strategic Fund bonds, to be paid off by $262 million from the DDA and $188 million from Olympia, the real estate arm of Wings owners Mike and Marian Ilitch's business holdings

How it will operate:

Revenue: Red Wings keep all

Maintenance: Reserve fund funded by the state bonds

Lease: 35 years; 12 five-year options.

Rent: $11.5 million concession fee paid to DDA, for bond retirement

(That maintenance deal is pretty cushy)

Crain's Detroit Business also lists the 5 "neighborhoods," Shea lists each and every one of the companies currently involved in the rink and economic development's planning, architecture and construction, and some of the "arena deal's" details, including the following:

• Olympia must spend -- or induce other private investors to spend -- at least $200 million in ancillary development in the expanded DDA district. That spending must begin no later than five years after the arena's 2017 opening, but Olympia has promised to spend $100 million concurrently with the arena construction.

• Olympia paid an estimated $50 million for half the land needed for the arena district, according to a Nov. 1 cost-benefit analysis provided to the Detroit City Council by its Legislative Policy Division.

• Wayne County in November approved an inter-governmental agreement with the DDA that allocates 1.5 mills of new county property tax capture on increased property values in the expanded district to repayment of the arena bonds, said Bryce Kelley, director of the Wayne County Economic Development Growth Engine.

• The DDA tax capture, on the books since the 1970s, can be used only for economic development within its district. It cannot be applied to debt, pensions or other bankruptcy-related issues.

Shea also notes that the State of Michigan reimburses Detroit schools for the property tax money legally diverted to economic development and only economic development, which is an essential point.

There are three videos embedded within an article listing Ilitch Holdings/Olympia Entertianment's principals, and you should know that this guy is now the Red Wings' voting member of the Board of Governors (shh):

• Chris Ilitch: President and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, son of Mike and Marian. The day-to-day head of the family's various business holdings and the face of the arena district project.

And yes, Shea states that the Pistons are at least monitoring the situation and may or may not move downtown at some point in the future, but the emphasis is on "at some point in the future," which is a nice way of saying, "Things might change, but probably not. Have fun, Wings!"

I mean, hell, the Red Wings' "club policy" of not disclosing the salary or term of contracts may change at some point in the future given that everybody and their brother's uncle's monkey immediately knows the cap hit and length of deals, and Capgeek breaks down everything within a day or two, but "club policy" is one of those "may change at some point in the future" type things.

Ohai Red Wings:

Herzlich Wilkommen bei dem Official Website for District Detroit. Press release time!

Ilitch organization shares bold vision for building
world-class, mixed-use sports and entertainment district in Detroit


  • Ilitch organization expands its investment to include tens of millions of dollars in public infrastructure improvements such as lighting, sidewalks, green spaces and streets concurrently with arena construction
  • Ilitch organization accelerates private investment of at least $200M for new, mixed-use development to now occur concurrently with arena construction and transform dozens of blighted blocks into five new neighborhoods
  • New, world-class arena – future home of the Detroit Red Wings – to open summer of 2017 and feature innovative, neighborhood-friendly and Detroit-fueled design
  • Project to generate at least $1.8B in total economic impact, 8,300 construction and construction-related jobs and 1,100 permanent jobs

DETROIT – Olympia Development of Michigan today announced plans for a sweeping transformation of dozens of underutilized blocks between downtown and midtown Detroit into a world-class Sports and Entertainment District. The project will connect existing and new development efforts in downtown and midtown Detroit along Woodward Avenue with five walkable, livable mixed-use District neighborhoods.

“It’s always been my dream to see a vibrant and energized downtown Detroit,” said Mike Ilitch, chairman, Ilitch Holdings, Inc. “I want people to look at Detroit’s new sports and entertainment district and see what I see: the potential for something very special. I couldn’t be more excited and proud to bring this vision to life.”

The District will encompass dozens of blocks along and near Woodward Avenue. Development in the District will be integrated with existing sports and entertainment venues in or adjacent to the space, including the Fox Theatre, Comerica Park, MotorCity Casino Hotel, Ford Field, the Detroit Opera House, the Fillmore Detroit and more.

“We’ve done business in Detroit for nearly 50 years, and this is our most significant and ambitious project here yet,” said Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, Inc. “Our great city is home to some of the world’s most legendary people, teams and venues in sports and entertainment. Detroit deserves no less than the best – a world-class sports and entertainment district we can all be proud of. And that’s exactly what we will build.”

Ilitch organization expands its investment to include tens of millions of dollars in public infrastructure improvements to occur concurrently with arena construction

The Ilitch organization has expanded its planned investment in the District to now include tens of millions of dollars in new neighborhood public infrastructure improvements such as lighting, sidewalks, green spaces and streets. These investments will occur concurrently with the development of the new District neighborhoods and arena.

Ilitch organization accelerates private investment of at least $200M in new, mixed-use development to now occur concurrently with arena construction

Development of new, mixed-use neighborhoods in the District will occur concurrently with construction of the new Detroit arena. Groundbreaking is slated for fall of 2014. Accelerating this investment to the first full year of the project will jump-start mixed-use development.

“By accelerating our investments in important neighborhood infrastructure and new mixed-use development, we will stabilize and develop dozens of underutilized blocks, create more jobs more quickly and allow the city to spend public funds on other priorities,” said Christopher Ilitch.

The neighborhoods are inspired by historical roots, beloved places or geographical highlights in each area. Each neighborhood has its own distinct personality, expressed by the following working names:

  • Columbia Street – A neighborhood near the Fox Theatre and the Fillmore Detroit that offers entertainment and dining at its finest.
  • Wildcat Corner – this neighborhood, anchored by Comerica Park and Ford Field, offers energetic, athletic experiences at their best.
  • Working name to be determined – The bustling home of the new Detroit arena.
  • Cass Park Village – An energized, eclectic and primarily residential neighborhood.
  • Columbia Park – A fresh, modern neighborhood anchored by a new public green space.

Project to generate at least $1.8B in total economic impact, 8,300 construction and construction-related jobs and 1,100 permanent jobs

The construction of the District, including the arena, is expected to create approximately 8,300 construction-related jobs and 1,100 permanent jobs in Detroit. Dozens of community meetings relating to jobs have taken place already, with many more planned as groundbreaking occurs in the fall and full construction begins next year. The project will spur at least $1.8 billion in economic impact for the city, region and state.

“The expanded vision for this important project will immediately begin building on the success of other investments along Woodward Avenue,” said Governor Rick Snyder. “This is a powerful example of how public-private partnerships have multiplier effects that benefit the city, the region and the state.”

New, world-class arena to open summer of 2017 and feature innovative, neighborhood-friendly and Detroit-fueled design

The new, world-class arena built concurrently with the District will be a model of innovation for such a facility in a downtown setting. It will serve not only as a powerful, continual generator of activity, but also as a good urban neighbor.

The revolutionary design will focus the arena on its most fundamental elements, while concurrently building and integrating a new, mixed-use neighborhood surrounding it. As the design is scaled and planned to fit with both new and existing development, it will also offer a dynamic urban environment that is uniquely Detroit.

“Our vision for the new arena is for a one-of-a-kind facility that fits in with its neighborhood, that is authentic to our Detroit roots and offers an unmatched fan experience,” said Christopher Ilitch. “We will build a revolutionary venue for hockey, music, entertainment and community events, and at the same time, a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood surrounding it.”

Community Connect

In addition to its significant investment in infrastructure; accelerated new, mixed-use development; and the arena itself, the Ilitch organization today announced a number of plans through its Community Connect program. These efforts will ensure this transformational initiative benefits the community in many different ways.

Additional, evolving plans include an internship program with Detroit Cass Technical High School; lending city officials and others urban planning and related expertise to benefit central business district “Main Street” redevelopment throughout various Detroit neighborhoods; dedicated support of minority entrepreneurship in the District; dedicated support of innovation space in the District and more.

Community Connect is an integral part of the District’s success, and it will continue to evolve as the project evolves.

Ongoing Communications

The Ilitch organization plans to keep the community informed throughout this project. Regular announcements, as well as meetings with city officials, the Neighborhood Advisory Committee and other stakeholders will be ongoing as the District comes to life. Subject matter experts will be available on Monday, July 21, by appointment only to discuss this initiative.

Continue to visit http://DistrictDetroit.com for the latest news about the District.

Big images! Click to embiggen! This stuff is wallpaper-sized!

This is a rendering of the proposed developments near Comerica Park:


Here's the rink neighborhood...

The "Cass Park Village" neighborhood...

The Columbia Park neighborhood...

The Columbia Street neighborhood...

And the "Wildcat Corner" neighborhood:

Update on the rink stuff #2: MLive's Eric Lacy found an embeddable video from the Free Press:




Otherwise...The Free Press's Helene St. James' hockey article of the day involves an examination of the Toronto Maple Leafs' offseason machinations;

Randy Carlyle is returning as coach. GM Dave Nonis has added a couple of right-shot defensemen in Stephane Robidas (who opted for Toronto over Detroit in order to be closer to his children in Montreal) and Roman Polak (who also adds a little grit), but there have been no earth-shaking moves.

Petri Kontiola was imported from the Kontinental Hockey League, and winger Leo Komarov was brought back from Russia after last playing for Toronto in 2013.

At the core, the Leafs still boast Phil Kessel, captain Dion Phaneuf, James van Riemsdyk and goaltender Jonathan Bernier. The defense has improved from last season, but in goal, it’s unclear whether restricted free agent James Reimer will return as backup or be used in a trade. Up front, there are questions down the middle after Dave Bolland departed for Florida.

The Free Press's Steve Schrader's "News Quiz" made me laugh:

If Mike Babcock is scaring away free agents, as some say, how can he work on his people skills?
A) Maybe tweak his “If you don’t want to be coached, don’t come here” sales pitch.
B) Maintain eye contact, but don’t glare so much.
C) If you can’t say anything nice about somebody, send them to Grand Rapids.
D) Ask Scotty Bowman why players loved him so much.

(I know I lost my top regarding the whole "bloggers who start fires" line, but you will have to trust me when I say that I had incredibly good reasons to take that as a shot across the bow. The past week has been shit-tastic in that department)

Speaking of the Griffins, The Sports Forecaster made an intriguing prediction in their "Fantasy Inbox":

Q: Who is the best keeper among the following: Buffalo's Joel Armia, Calgary's Sam Bennett or Detroit's Teemu Pulkkinen?
- Wade C. (Spruce Grove, AB)

FI: Thanks, Wade. Pulkkinen is the oldest of the three prospects but may have the most goal-scoring prowess. Armia is a good goal-scorer, too. Bennett is the most complete prospect of the three, and the likeliest to play the most games in the NHL in 2014-15--despite being the youngest of the three. Pulkkinen and Armia have already spent time in the AHL, which helps. However, the latter needs more time to adjust to being a scoring winger in North America. So, this is really between Bennett and Pulkkinen. While the latter may have more competition to earn a spot on the Wings, we like his fantasy upside a little more once he becomes a regular in the NHL. It may take Bennett a little while to become a quality fantasy option. His keeper-league value is quite high, but we would choose Pulkkinen here.

Octopus Thrower's Peter Fish tried to figure out where Daniel Cleary realistically fits within the Red Wings' current roster, and I have to try to realistically not just yell "THE PRESS BOX" over and over again:

Daniel Cleary does not belong on the first line with Zetterberg and Datsyuk and the second line looks full with Gustav Nyquist, Stephen Weiss, and Johan Franzen.

The third line could be a possibility for Cleary, but I believe keeping the Kid Line of Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, and Tomas Jurco would be a better option for Detroit this season and in the future.

With the top three lines full, it only leaves room for Cleary on the fourth line along Drew Miller and Luke Glendening or Joakim Andersson.

While Cleary could be a good player for Detroit on the fourth line, but the Red Wings just bought out Jordin Tootoo – who was making too much to play on the fourth line – and after Cleary plays ten games he will be making 600,000 dollars more than Detroit would have paid Tootoo this season.

Snipe City Hockey is selling this t-shirt, and it's brilliant:

On Twitter...

And finally, Currich5 on YouTube was the only person to interview Ted Lindsay at the Ted Lindsay Foundation's Hockeyfest in Canton on Saturday:

Update #2: Petr Mrazek spoke with iDnes.cz's Michal Remes. Here's a summary of what he had to say:

1. Mrazek apparently spoke with kids at a goalie school and he suggested that a lack of goaltending coaches is one of the reaons that the Czechs aren't producing elite goalies on a regular basis:

2. Mrazek also points out that Czechs have to leave to play Major Junior hockey if they're truly interested in making the NHL;

3.. He's asked about his status as an AHL'er for the upcoming season, and he says that he's grateful for his opportunities to play in the NHL, and that his contract extension = he has 1 more year in the AHL--he's OK with going to Grand Rapids--and then he has a one-way contract, which means he'll be in Detroit. He feels that he needs to improve upon his past season's performance;

4. Mrazek says that he went on a vacation trip to Dubai with "a friend" (Tomas Tatar) and that he went on a short vacation with his girlfriend and sister in Barcelona, but now he's training twice a day, working out in the gym in the morning and then running or riding a bike in the afternoon, and he's riding uphill into the mountains near where he trains;

5. He's not a Tour De France fan, however;

6. He's asked whether he'd like to play at the 2015 World Championships for the Czech team as the 2015 Worlds are being held in Prague, but he says that regardless of whether he's in Grand Rapids or Detroit, he'd most likely be playing playoff hockey if the Griffins or Wings get past the first round of the playoffs. He says it'd be an honor and a dream fulfilled to play for the Czechs, but his loyalties aren't mixed at all.

Sport-Express also posited ten YouTube videos celebrating Pavel Datsyuk's 36th birthday.



Update #4: This explains the timing:

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


d ca's avatar

I saw the cross section view of the rink and need to see a large image of it. If they made the mistake of not having open concourses to the ice with sight lines to the outer walls (like the whatever the hell it is called now RBC center as I know it)—it is a huge mistake.

But am I the only one that is screaming at a glass roof enclosed Las Vegas style section of buildings….it’s Detroit in Oct through hopefully late June…not the middle of the desert. It will below freezing for a good portion of that. WTF, am I missing something? Did they take the survey about having things outdoors from the smokers section at JLA or something?

Posted by d ca on 07/20/14 at 07:08 AM ET

duhduhduh's avatar

■ Lighted roof design: The roof of the arena will be fashioned with the most modern programmable lighting so that different images can be produced for a given event. In the rendering provided by Olympia Development, the roof shows the Red Wings logo as it will on hockey nights. But the roof could be green for St. Patrick’s Day or something else for a concert by Kid Rock or Eminem, Ilitch said. He described the desired effect as “classy, not gaudy.”

also makes it easier to paste corporate name on the roof, if the price is right.

Posted by duhduhduh on 07/20/14 at 08:53 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Rotating ads!

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 07/20/14 at 08:57 AM ET

Primis's avatar

.it’s Detroit in Oct through hopefully late June…not the middle of the desert. It will below freezing for a good portion of that. WTF, am I missing something? Did they take the survey about having things outdoors from the smokers section at JLA or something?

Posted by d ca on 07/20/14 at 07:08 AM ET

Yes.  You’re missing the part where they plan on having that section open year-round, independent of the Wings.  Thus the talk of a “detatched” concourse that remains open when the arena proper is not.

The whole thing is…. ambitious.  The arena is the anchor of the whole thing, but even then up until now I didn’t realize how MUCH other things and neighborhoods were a part of the development.

Posted by Primis on 07/20/14 at 09:45 AM ET

Soupsnake's avatar

I’m sure the concourse/glass roofed area will be heated in the winter. It looks fully enclosed from the sketches.

I’m most interested to see how they plan to build the walkways over the Fisher. It’s so incredibly cold crossing that thing right now in the winter. Hopefully some of the pedestrian walkways are covered.

Posted by Soupsnake from Canton, Mi on 07/20/14 at 09:47 AM ET

Paul's avatar

also makes it easier to paste corporate name on the roof, if the price is right.

Posted by MoreShoot on 07/20/14 at 08:53 AM ET

Bernstein’s Barn?

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 07/20/14 at 09:47 AM ET

Mistercristo's avatar

Rhamani’s Rink?
Illitch Ice?
Howe’s House?
Belle Tire Bowl?
Pizza Pizza Place?

OK, I’m done for now.  Good Morning.

Posted by Mistercristo from Cameron Frye's garage, circa 1987 on 07/20/14 at 11:58 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

if the Ilitches don’t build a dedicated parking structure as part of their economic development, it’s going to be a nightmare to find parking anywhere within walking distance of the rink.

Hello, M1 Rail?  Park at Wayne State, the Harvard of the Lodge Freeway.

I need to see if this will extend north to the Vietnam Vets lodge and parking lot that sits on the west side of Woodward, at ...

Posted by RWBill on 07/20/14 at 12:20 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

.......  Woodward between Temple and Charlotte.  I parked there and they just asked for a donation, and let me go inside to change into cold weather gear to walk to Comerica Park for the Alumni game, rather than standing in 10 degrees snow in the parking lot trying to put on layers.

Vietnam Vets Lodge Woodward at Temple Detroit

Posted by RWBill on 07/20/14 at 12:30 PM ET

Burr87's avatar

Great Job George! Much easier to read and view than the Freep site.

Posted by Burr87 on 07/20/14 at 12:31 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 07/20/14 at 09:47 AM ET
Posted by Mistercristo from Cameron Frye’s garage, circa 1987 on 07/20/14 at 11:58 AM ET

Well, they COULD radiate a picture of Karen Newman from the roof, I wouldn’t complain.

Posted by RWBill on 07/20/14 at 12:33 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

Great Job George! Much easier to read and view than the Freep site.

Posted by Burr87 on 07/20/14 at 12:31 PM ET

Bill likes this

Posted by RWBill on 07/20/14 at 12:35 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

The Free Press went for an editorial and real estate angle, which was the Ilitches’ price of admission, and Crain’s Detroit Business’s Shea cut to the chase.

I waited until 5 AM for the Free Press to post, and I thought, *#$%@& this shit, my readers care about the community, but our asses are going to be planted in the rink first and foremost. I worked with what I could until Bill Shea got down to brass tacks and the Wings issued their press release, all wrapped up in a bow for Mr. Ilitch’s 85th birthday.

All of the community development is really TBA and TBD—to be announced and to be determined, based upon how greasy the fingers of the City Council and Wayne County get. The rink is the heart of the project and I didn’t want any of you to have to deal with the frou frou stuff.

Here’s what I know:

There is no way to truly justify this kind of public expenditure, even given the fact that the Downtown Development Authority and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation are legally bond (by state as well as city law) to spend the tax revenues they collect for anything other than downtown development. But if they are going to replace the Joe, Coleman Young never got the damn rink quite right—the sightlines are beautiful, but we put up with a lot of deficiencies—and this rink has to keep the Joe’s spirit, acoustics and views while finally delivering the amenities that other cities get.

Any and every one of us who has had to live through the clusterf*** that is the City of Detroit and Wayne County’s governance over the past 40-ish years just want to see this thing done damn right if it’s gonna be done.

No BS, just get to the damn point.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 07/20/14 at 12:51 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

Interesting that capacity has been redesigned upwards of the 20,000 figure that fans seemed to insist on.  Maybe this will keep some thousand “more affordable” seats available.

On TV it looks like the “sold-out” claim is laughable because many of the bottom 8 rows, the only rows visible on the TV broadcast, are empty.  But inside the JLA in person the place always looks full and the small area of those bottom 8 rows around the ice is a tiny portion of the expansive seating capacity, and lost in the huge crowd.

I expect these are long-standing automatically renewed corporate seats that always seem to go unused.  Probably the same will happen to a portion of the seats in the new arena.

Sometime soon we should have a discussion about the name of the arena. Referring to “the Joe” is kind of ingrained in the RedWing fan culture, even referring to Phoenix or Anaheim as JLA west.

I don’t know that there really is any connection between Joe Louis the fighter and the Detroit redwings. I expect there will be several names there, a corporate name, a name for the ice surface, a name for the arena, a name for the whole complex, Al Sobotka north entrance, the Karen Newman mic stand etc.

Posted by RWBill on 07/20/14 at 12:53 PM ET

Rdwings28's avatar

Maybe we will end up calling it “the Mike”

Posted by Rdwings28 on 07/20/14 at 05:00 PM ET


There is no way to truly justify this kind of public expenditure

Bingo.  This could be the single most impressive sports stadium built by human hands and It wouldn’t be worth the tax revenues it will siphon away from city services.

Heck even the ‘jobs created’ number is largely ephemeral, as I’d bet that for every job ‘created’ in the new rink they’ll be a job lost around the area of the old facility.

The huge, huge, HUGE winners here is the Illtch family, who get a rink for 44 cents on the dollar, which will almost immediately increase the value of their team by a large chunk of the amount they are contributing to the construction in the first place, at least depending on how the alternative revenue streams are divided up in the short term.

I mean, you have to stand up and applaud the Illtch’s on this one for the success in getting such a monumentally positive deal for themselves.  15 years ago when Detroit wasn’t a financial mess they had to put down 62% of the costs to build Comerica.  Now, while Detroit’s in a high-profile municipal bankruptcy, they were able to shake down the public trough to the degree they only had to pay 44% of the upfronts this time?

They pulled off the big business equivalent of the Gordie Howe hattrick: They got the stadium they wanted, the location they wanted, and they get to keep loads of their money.


Posted by HockeyinHD on 07/20/14 at 05:37 PM ET

bigfrog's avatar

Any and every one of us who has had to live through the clusterf*** that is the City of Detroit and Wayne County’s governance over the past 40-ish years just want to see this thing done damn right if it’s gonna be done.

No BS, just get to the damn point.

More like the Last 50 years for sure.

Posted by bigfrog on 07/20/14 at 07:19 PM ET


It’s going create jobs and revenue for the city just like Ford Field, Comerica Park, and The Casinos did. ::eyes roll out of the back of my head::
This will be great for Wings fans and Ilitch holdings but when someone says how great this is for the city my initial thought is…you dont live here do you.

Posted by brians neck on 07/20/14 at 08:11 PM ET


Posted by HockeyinHD on 07/20/14 at 05:37 PM ET

Yeah, those empty parking lots are employing a lot of people.

Heck even the ‘jobs created’ number is largely ephemeral, as I’d bet that for every job ‘created’ in the new rink they’ll be a job lost around the area of the old facility.

I’ll take that bet. If you are right, I’ll leave KK for good. If you are wrong you leave for good and forever. Bah-boom!

Posted by brians neck on 07/20/14 at 08:11 PM ET

Just curious, do you live in Detroit?

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 07/21/14 at 12:12 AM ET


I live in the ‘blight’moor area. Ive held out on moving as long as possible. If things dont change I’ll have to. I dont have to stay here but I want to.

Posted by brians neck on 07/21/14 at 09:02 AM ET

LivinLaVidaLockout's avatar

I’m inerested in the fact that the rink’s not going to be 18,000 seats anymore—we’re looking at a 20,000-seat facility

Hey George, just fyi I asked some of the ticket reps for the Wings back in February what the deal was exactly with the smaller capacity for the new arena.  They told me that the number wasn’t accurate, because the 18,000 figure didn’t account for any luxury seats or suites.  I think it’s relatively safe to assume that the 18k number was in always in relation to ‘normal seating,’ and that Jimmy D’s inflammatory comments about decreasing seating to increase demand were representative of him not knowing what he was talking about.

Posted by LivinLaVidaLockout on 07/21/14 at 09:32 AM ET

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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.