The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/31/13 at 02:48 AM ET
Regardless of your opinion regarding the Red Wings' new rink and the funding surrounding it, there are at least facts available about the public and private portions of its construction costs, the rink proposal itself and who's in charge. If anything, the various websites on both sides of the political aisle are pissing me off (and again, I'm a moderate independent) because I keep on reading so much vitriol spewed that assumes the rink's being built in a vacuum and/or in an area that is only supported by the citizens of the City of Detroit.
Hell, more often than not, reading some of the rants of late makes me wonder whether the authors understand that the city does not in fact float like an island in space, absent any connections to the vast metropolitan area which surrounds it (save "South Detroit," a.k.a. Windsor, Ontario, of course).
For those of you who aren't familiar with the area, depending on where you draw the borders of Metro Detroit, it spans somewhere between 3,800 and 5,800 square miles, and includes somewhere between 4.2 and 5.2 million of the 9.8 million residents.
This area includes over 1,000,000 people in Wayne County who do not live in the City of Detroit (which has about 760,000 residents), Macomb County's 840,000 residents and the 1.2 million people who live in the richest county in the State of Michigan, Oakland County (see: the other side of the vast majority of 8 Mile Road).
In those three counties alone, there are more than enough large, medium and small companies, manufacturers and independent businesses to employ at least 20,000 people who can save their pennies to purchase individual-game or partial or full-season ticket packages to attend Wings games, and there are more than a few companies that happily enter into sponsorship agreements with the Red Wings.
The fact that so many Metro Detroiters work in Downtown Detroit is not exactly a new phenomenon, but the number thereof has increased by leaps and bounds over the past 20 years. Downtown Detroit's home to General Motors' world headquarters, Rock Financial/Quicken Loans' main workplace, Compuware's headquarters, DTE Energy's headquarters, Ilitch Holdings, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Wayne State University, the Detroit Medical Center, Henry Ford Hospital, and even accounting firm Ernst & Young, and several important Big 3 companies' manufacturing plants and parts suppliers (like American Axle) are located within the City limits.
The players don't live in the City of Detroit, either--they tend to live in prosperous suburbs like Birmingham, Troy, Novi and Northville.
So yes, while the City of Detroit is in Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy, and while yes, the people in the City of Detroit are struggling thanks to 40 years of financial mismanagement from their elected officials, a shitty, shitty level of basic city services and a lack of , Detroit is not a burnt-out crater of a city, and is surrounded by nothing less than a Metropolitan Area which has weathered Chrysler and GM's bankruptcies and is on the rebound.
It's the citizens of the Metro Area and the rest of the State of Michigan as a whole who are on the hook for the credit backing the $450 million in bond sales being used to float the rink-and-econonomic-development project and provide 44% of the funding for said rink, too, and those bond sales will be repaid by property taxes on the aforementioned downtown businesses as diverted by the Downtown Development Authority and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, and as reported by many sources, that $12.8 million in property taxes cannot be used for anything other than downtown development as deemed necessary by the DDA and DEGC, which are not City governmental agencies.
I was hoping that when Crain's Detroit Business's Bill Shea, who's something of the "guru" regarding the scuttlebutt surrounding the Wings' follow-on rink, stated that he was going to appear on Toronto's TSN 1050, he would be allowed to at least explain the situation and let listeners decide for themselves, but instead, he spent most of his four-and-a-half-minute interview with Leafs Lunch listening to the hosts express their dismay and disdain for any public funding going toward a private entity's business endeavor:
I'm starting to believe that, as we go forward, the opinions regarding the rink and economic development are going to resemble debates regarding questionable hits and plays which result in NHL suspensions:
It certainly seems like nobody gives a flying *#$%@& about the facts surrounding the development, and instead, they want to further their political points of view and their own economic philosophies, and no matter how many times anyone attempts to state, "Okay, here are the details, here's how it's going down, here's who's in charge, and oh yeah by the way, the City of Detroit and its residents do not exist on some magical floating island that has no connections to the surrounding area," people have already made their judgments, and no amount of reasoned analysis or deposition of facts and figures will change their opinions, nor do anything less than continue to serve as fuel for their blustery fires.
As I've stated previously, there's obviously no way to truly defend the use of any public funds in a bankrupt city (again, Chapter 9, "We're gonna try to pay our creditors back as best we can" as opposed to Chapter 11's, "Liquidate our assets, everything must go!") being used on anything other than its residents' basic needs, but there are tangible benefits involved, the DDA and DEGC actually have a history of getting things done on time and on or under budget...
And there is the fact that the business world does not involve fairness nor anything less than encouraging businesses to invest in the cities around them, even if doing so is largely motivated by desires to improve investing businesses' bottom lines.
I don't know whether the "job creation" stats have any sort of basis in reality given that those figures are the one part of almost any project that involve blatantly lying about which jobs have been "created" versus which jobs simply transfer to new locations, which jobs are permanently created and/or which jobs are temporary.
I do believe that any investment in the city at this point is good news, and I do know that the Cass Corridor still separates Downtown from Midtown with an area that most suburbanites don't want to spend any time in unless absolutely necessary. As such, the rink and surrounding development do help serve as something of a bridge-maker that should attract more people downtown and at least make a "scary" part of the city safer and more economically viable.
It should also be noted that another significant part of the underpinnings of the project's infrastructure moved forward on Tuesday, as Shea noted both on Twitter...
And in an article on Crain's Detroit Business's website:
Because engineering is still underway, a maximum contract price hasn't been determined. M1 believes construction of the grade-level streetcar loop itself between Hart Plaza and New Center will cost $135 million to $145 million, which could drive the total project cost closer to $187 million from a previously estimated $137 million.
Of that, the state is funding a Woodward resurfacing and some overpass work concurrently with the streetcar line construction, M1 COO Paul Childs previously told Crain's. The MDOT work, at a cost of $35 million to $45 million, will be between Sibley and Chandler streets. That amount is part of the project's total, which could end up higher or lower than $187 million.
Work is expected to begin this fall between Larned and Adams streets and M1's goal is to be operating by the fourth quarter of 2015.
M1's plan is a mostly curbside-running, fixed-rail streetcar circulator system, co-mingled with traffic, with 11 stops between Grand Boulevard and Congress Street. It will run in the median at its north and south ends.
M1 Rail is led by Penske Corp. founder Roger Penske and Quicken Loans Inc. founder Dan Gilbert, the project's co-chairman; Peter Karmanos Jr., founder of Detroit-based Compuware Corp.; and the Ilitch family, owners of the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings and Little Caesar Enterprises Inc.
Major construction commitments of $3 million have been secured from Wayne State University, Quicken Loans, the Ilitch companies, Penske Corp., Compuware, Chevrolet, Chrysler Group, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the Detroit Medical Center, Henry Ford Health System, Wayne County government, the Ford Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The Hudson Webber Foundation has pledged $1 million.The $3 million commitments are for the display advertising rights to a station along the route. The Troy-based Kresge Foundation has pledged $35.1 million, part of which already has been spent, and it gave an additional $3 million as a "backstop" grant.
The Detroit Downtown Development Authority has earmarked $9 million for M1. Another $16 million is from federal New Market Tax Credits, which have to be sought annually. Plans also include a $22 million commercial loan.
It's going to be interesting to see whether Shea's allowed to actually speak when he conducts another interview on Friday:
As for this blog's thrust going forward, I'm going to continue to share my opinions, but I'm always going to repeat the facts and figures surrounding the development to ground my observations upon those facts...
And I'm also going to assume that there's no way in hell that I'll ever change your opinion about the subjec.t
In terms of more directly Red Wings-related news, the Free Press's Helene St. James continues her series of articles discussing Red Wings players who will contribute to the team's attempt to adapt to the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division by placing the spotlight on the surprising Danny DeKeyser, who was by far the team's best free agent signing of the past...Well, two or three years:
Looking back: The Wings and a dozen other NHL teams wooed DeKeyser for a year leading up to the end of his career at Western Michigan in March. Within a week he signed with the Wings, who — still reeling from last summer’s departures of Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart — offered him both a chance to play at home and a chance at serious minutes on a defense. After spending a few days learning the Wings’ system, DeKeyser was inserted into the lineup, where he stayed until he suffered a broken right thumb two games into the series against Anaheim. He returned to play in the minors, helping the Griffins to the Calder Cup.
Looking ahead: DeKeyser, 23, wasn’t drafted and now looks like sure-fire top-four material. He’s a lanky 6-feet-3, and like all young newcomers needs to gain muscle and a little bulk. The reason he was so coveted is his skating, as he’s the sort of mobile, puck-moving D-man all teams need to jump start their offense.
DeKeyser and Jakub Kindl = the Wings' "second pair" as far as I'm concerned.
DeKeyser made a favorable impression in just the one month he played, leapfrogging a couple of veterans to join the lineup. Come next season, he’ll be that much better from having gone through training camp. He’s a viable candidate to push his way into the top-four mix and can play both sides of special teams. He’s young and has lots to learn, but he figures to join the list of the Wings’ core players.
9. Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings: The best indication that Howard’s the real deal is that he forced the Red Wings to actually invest real dollars in the goaltending spot under GM Ken Holland. That his numbers didn’t fall off post-Lidstrom was a major test passed for Howard, who frankly made the blueline corps in front of him better than it looked on paper. His playoff numbers could be better, but he’s as dependable as they come. Plus we're fond of any goalie with the "-y" nickname, much like Timmy Thomas and the various Cor(e)ys. Memo to Mason: Go with "Stevie."
While we're talking about "bests," the Sporting News offers a list of the NHL's best jerseys sans a ranking, and it has this to say about the winged wheel:
Detroit Red Wings: No sense in parsing minimal changes to Detroit's kit. Credit for not messing with near-perfection.
Near-perfection? Two colors. One color best ever color. Winged wheel. No fluffernutter. We am de best, like pie-scented cleaner!
In news from across the pond, part 1:
In news from across the pond, part 2: Niklas Kronwall's holding his annual charity hockey game to raise funds for his childhood hockey team, Jarfalla HC, on August 9th (admission is free), and he shared a list of participants with Marie Hallman...
Right now, these guys are playing: Niklas Kronwall, Detroit, Jonathan Ericsson, Detroit, Gustav Nyquist, Detroit, Jonas "Monster" Gustavsson, Detroit, Mikael Samuelsson, Detroit, Joakim Andersson, Detroit, Johnny Oduya, Chicago, Marcus Krüger, Chicago Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado, Jacob Josefsson, New Jersey, Niklas Grossman, Philadephia, Henrik Tallinder, Buffalo, Patric Hornqvist, Nashville, Mattias Norstrom, formerly of LA Kings, Daniel Rudslätt, former sometimes AIK [player.]
And she spoke with Kronwall about a couple of topics--and what follows is roughly-translated Swedish:
"The admission is free to the game, rather than an entry fee. If you want to, then you can pay any amount for the ticket. The idea is still to raise money for Jarfalla HC as it's Niklas Kronwall's parent club. And the whole thing started, as I said, a few years ago on a smaller scale:
"I always thought it was really fun when we had a reunion game with the old Jarfalla guys who played in higher leagues but weren't active anymore. But basically it's about trying to raise as much money as possible for Jarfalla, and we found that we might be able to get more money if we had more NHL players who are active and play. So we're very grateful to everyone involved in setting up the Jarfalla game."
And there's still no admission?
"Yes, that's right, and we hope, of course, that the audience donates what it thinks is sensible."
Were you supposed to sell tickets?
"Well, maybe, but the idea is to fill the rink and get an audience, and then we could sell tickets and have some other stuff about the game and we hope that it's reflected in the result," says Niklas Kronwall, who pushed a little hard to get Stanley Cup-winners Kruger and Oduya and World Championship-winners Tallinder and Landeskog.
"Chicago had an incredible season. It will be difficult to repeat what they did in the regular season, and they were by far the best team over the entire year. So it's a blast to have (Kruger and Oduya) included, and we've also got Gabby (Landeskog) and Tallen (Tallinder) who recently won the World Championship, it also feels really fun to bring them to the audience. And Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist won the Calder Cup in the AHL, so there are a lot of winners this year."
And an old winner, who won the Olympics, World Championship and the Stanley Cup?
"Yes, but that was a while ago, and now we're talking about fresh winners, ha ha."
There's no mistaking that Niklas Kronwall still has a strong commitment to his parent club. Jarfalla had a rough past season and is now working hard to rehabilitate its budget.
"I know it was a little tough in the spring, but now there's some new blood in the team that's very engaged, and got the team back on track. It's inspiring and it feels like everyone's working in the framework and that they've established and really want to move forward and do something," says Niklas Kronwall.
He remains in regular contact with the team and he follows them through the information he receives and knows what's going on. And the help, including the money that this game provides, is obvious to see.
"I think of the kids! If the team has to start over maybe half of the players have to start over on other teams, and there's another half of the team who might not find another team, and it's not good for anyone if you've got to engage in the junior stuff that they've done before. But I think they can build a solid business [model] agai and so I think it looks positive for the future. Everything's up to date."
Former Wing Damien Brunner took part in a golf game while accompanied by Sport.ch's Simon Bodenmann, but all he talked about was golf...
According to Ilta Sanomat's Atte Husu, former Wing Petr Klima's 16-year-old twin sons, Kevin and Kelly, are attempting to catch on with Tappara Tampere's junior team, hoping to ink 3-year deals...
In a very different vein, the Red Wings posted Tweets from their "partner summit" on Tuesday at the Joe...This stuff isn't exactly scintillating, but if you've ever wondered about the strategies of the WIngs' corporate partners, here they are:
And finally, I didn't have the same relationship with Hockeytown Todd that many Abel to Yzerman readers did, but as Bill said, the man was a remarkable repository of hockey knowledge who could be as kind and generous as he was salty and gruff...And there was no doubting that he was a brilliant man. I'll miss him dearly.
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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.