The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/25/13 at 01:07 AM ET
I'd like to begin this entry with some clarification regarding the Michigan Strategic Fund's approval of over $450 million in bonds to help finance the Ilitches' follow-on rink and the surrounding economic development:
At this point, there's no doubt that the concept of diverting $12.8 million per year for the next...Uh...30 years or so..."To help fund a zillionaire's pet project" seems awful on the surface given Detroit's Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy.
But that's just not the an accurate assessment of the project, where the money's coming from, or what it's supposed to be used for.
If you've been following Crain's Detroit Business's Bill Shea's Twitter account and articles from the get-go, you'll already know that the $12.8 million the Downtown Development Authority's sending the Ilitches' way comes from property taxes on downtown businesses like General Motors, Rock Financial/Quicken Loans, the downtown casinos, Compuware, etc., and you'll have remembered that Shea stated that the money the DDA's been collecting can only be used for projects related to "downtown development," so these property taxes (cities engaging in a Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy still collect taxes) can't be used for any other purpose.
We're not talking about average folks helping the 1%, as some of you have suggested, nor are we talking about the State or Federal governments having to "bail out" both the City and a billionaire.
We're talking about a project that's been approved by the State and the MSF, and we're talking about a project whose public funding is coming from those who are already generating business revenues for the City, County and State.
In terms of the DDA, we're also talking about an organization that actually ensures that construction projects downtown--and Shea reported that at least half of the construction jobs are going to City residents--get done on time (2017 in the $450 million rink's case) and get done on budget.
The City and County so *#$%@& up the Wayne County Jail expansion that it was going to cost over half a billion dollars for a $220 million project, and even after the feds' investigations of the Mayor's office and Wayne County, tens of millions of tax dollars were still being used to line the pockets of contractors who got cushy deals while the Detroit Fire Department's had to partially rely upon private donations to not have to pay out of pocket for staples like toilet paper.
So shit ain't gettin' done with the City or County right now. The DDA helped Comerica Park, Ford Field, Campus Martius, the Compuware building and Quicken Loans' move downtown become reality, and they're not going to *#$%@& around here.
I'd also argue that Detroit's in a financial situation where nobody's going to buy bonds for anything less than an investment with a guaranteed pay-back makes their bonds more than "junk"-rated.
The city where I was born is undergoing an awful period of time, and any tax money that isn't being used to help its residents restore basic city services, reduce crime or help with education and "creating jobs" for normal folks is probably being misspent...
But if there is misspending to be done, this is about as good a project as you can possibly hope for. The area behind the Fox Theatre has sat vacant for over 20 years now, and the Cass Corridor is still a blighted, crime-ridden mess that separates Downtown from Midtown with an area that scares the bejeezus out of a son of a probation officer like me, never mind suburbanites that are flocking downtown to play, or, more importantly, work and pay a special income tax to the City of Detroit.
This project is going to take one of the last truly "scary" areas downtown and it's going to kick-start a real renaissance in terms of places for people to work, play and even live, and yes, it's going to break a few toes along the way, which isn't exactly fantastic.
But if this is the way the world works--and it is, for better or worse--and if all of this damn *#$%@& money's going to be spent, at least it's going to honest-to-goodness "job creation," urban development and making a creepy-ass part of the city somewhere that people can walk through without fear of getting mugged.
In terms of the details, per Shea...
Shea discussed some of the details regarding the rink and/or development's construction and funding...
In a statement today touting the project, Gov. Rick Snyder said construction of the arena alone will create 2,900 direct construction jobs and the ancillary development would mean another 1,480 construction jobs.
Under the deal, half those jobs must be filled by Detroit residents, Snyder's office said in a statement.
DEGC President and CEO George Jackson said he hoped approvals for the arena project could be in place by the end of the year. Actual construction of the arena would take 24-30 months, so 2016 or 2017 are the likeliest years that the Red Wings would begin play at the new arena.
The quasi-public, nonprofit DEGC is the city's umbrella economic development agency providing staff, financing and incentives for the various authorities, including the DDA, that do specific tasks, such as neighborhood, commercial and industrial redevelopment along with investment.
Details presented to the MSF board included:
• Completion of the arena is anticipated in 2017.• The size of the arena would be about 650,000 square feet, with 18,000 seats, including approximately 1,200 premium seats.
• An attached parking deck would have about 500 spaces, and the ground floor would include 10,000 square feet of retail space featuring a team store, restaurants and other retail. This space would be open to the public not only during events, but also at other times.• Possible projects in the development area around the new arena might include new office and retail at Woodward near Sproat; renovation of the Detroit Life Building and Blenheim buildings for retail and residential units; renovation of 1922 Cass building for office use; a new 70-car parking deck with ground floor retail; and a site for a possible new hotel.
As did the Free Press's Tom Walsh...
An Olympia Development PowerPoint presentation submitted to the MSF board cited stadium and arena projects that the company said spurred bursts of economic activity in Indianapolis, San Diego, Los Angeles and Columbus.
It also showed a list of 11 arena and ballpark projects in the past decade — in cities from New York to Memphis, Houston, Orlando and Cincinnati — that were 50% to 100% financed with public dollars.
The objective of the new arena project is “to transform the (45-block area) from its currently largely blighted state into a vibrant year-round business, residential and entertainment district,” according to the DDA’s letter to the MSF board.
Bruce Katz, director of the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, recently told me, “generally speaking, I don’t think these kind of deals are defensible.”
But the Ilitch arena may be an exception, he said, coming as it does at a pivotal time for Detroit.
“Sports teams have a hold on the civic pride of places,” Katz said.
MLive's David Muller...
The district of the proposed development encompasses a 45-block area roughly bordered by Charlotte Street to the north, Grand River to the west, Grand Circus Park to the south and Woodward Avenue to east. The actual 650,000-square-foot arena would be located on Woodward Avenue from Sproat to Henry Street, and west to Park Avenue.
On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Snyder said he expects the project, which is expected to add 4,380 construction jobs, to be a boon for Detroit.
“This new entertainment district will be much more than a new arena for the Detroit Red Wings. This is a project that will help revitalize Detroit,” Snyder said in a statement. “This project creates another major destination point for residents and visitors alike that builds on prior investments along Woodward from Comerica Park and Ford Field to the new Whole Foods in Mid-Town. The Ilitch family organization is making an enormous investment in the city and state bond financing makes this project a true public-private partnership.”
And the Detroit News's Louis Aguilar:
Last month, Olympia Development of Michigan, the real estate arm of Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Detroit Downtown Development Authority and Wayne County that provides a framework for the private and public financing of the project.
The project includes acquisition of land, construction of the events center, the acquisition and installation of furnishings and equipment, and further development of the surrounding district. The investment for the project is estimated at $650 million.
I know that some of you--and me--aren't thrilled with the fact that the new rink will have only 18,000 seats, and, according to Shea, minimal parking structures (which means parking headaches when the Tigers and/or Lions are playing), but we can talk about that stuff at another time.
The bottom line for this Wings fan who still has to scrimp and save to attend games is as follows:
The City of Detroit and Wayne County have been so grossly mismanaged by its elected officials--since before I was born in 1978--that it is not an outlandish statement in suggesting that the City could easily settle its $18 BILLION in debts if those elected officials hadn't been lining their pockets, the pockets of their friends, family, business partners, contractors and yes, businesspeople who built empires (see: the Kilpatrick family) off of the backs of the residents and people who once braved downtown to persevere through the "Murder City" years and the insanity of Coleman Young's administration, as well as the reality show that is the Politburo-style City Council's reign (now that emergency manager Kevin Orr is in charge, City Council members are "retiring," quitting or otherwise disappearing).
This development is at least within the bounds of reality, the people in charge know what they're doing, and the City, County and State are all watching to make sure that what might be Mike Ilitch's last public work is built on-budget and on-time.
That's way better than 95% of the stuff that's taken taxpayer dollars and diverted them toward "economic development" prior to the DDA's establishment both before and during my lifetime. I'll take it and let Olympia Entertainment run with it.
In actual hockey news, but in no less-daunting terminology, Pavel Datsyuk's holding a two-week-long hockey school in Yekaterinburg, Russia at present...
And Sovetsky Sport's Sergey Bergishev headed to the Ural mountains to visit with Datsyuk, offering a monster interview that you can watch in Russian...
You don't need to know Russian to see that Datsyuk was genuinely humbled to receive a scrapbook of all of Sovetsky Sport's Datsyukian mentions...
And yes, Bergishev found a hip-hop song about Datsyuk:
Bergishev has the lyrics going something like this--and Russian obviously doesn't translate very well:
Sverdlovsk. Winter. Sport.
Old skates. Hockey. Yard box.
Boy Pasha in a plaid scarf
Chasing the puck with passion from morning to evening.
Later, "Youth", the first coach Uncle Vova.
After school Pasha rushes to the gym on time.
The road to the center by tram thirteenth,
Bag with the form takes a couple of chairs.
Mid 90's early successes.
Coach Golouhov, shoulders already armor.
SKA Sverdlovsk, then "Energy-Dynamo"
Career growth, and then insulting injury
After the pick, "Red Wings" - this is true,
But the knee is unlikely to heal until tomorrow.
But Vladimir Krikunov with "White Leopard"
Helped him up and "Detroit" to be at once.
That part is true. Datsyuk calls Vladimir Krikunov "Uncle Vova," and Krikunov both gave Datsyuk his break with Dynamo-Energia and helped Datsyuk receive the proper medical care to have surgery on his knee injury--and it was an injury that nearly ended his career in the late 90's--while coaching the Ak Bars Kazan. Ak Bars = Snow Leopards or "White Leopards."
The owner of two golden hands - Pavel Datsyuk!
In the Urals, love it and wait - Pavel Datsyuk!
Genius, like Woody Allen's spirit - Pavel Datsyuk!
Unique in its enforcement of any trick - Pavel Datsyuk!
Magic plus a difficult labor - Pavel Datsyuk!
Hardened steel as morale - Pavel Datsyuk!
If the poster suddenly winked Pavel Datsyuk,
So you're lucky, man. Pavel Datsyuk.
In the arsenal of hundreds of tricks in store he has,
Only bummer is unsuccessful with his pass.
In vain is any defense against
Someone who is on one skate enemy passes.
Disciplined, well mannered and very low-key,
"Lady Byng" proves how Paul polite.
And do not interfere with the approval of "Jay Frank Selke"
Paul wears a pair of eyes on the back of his head.
In the fervent battle keeps a stranglehold on the stick.
The genius of the left grip boldly rushes on the site.
No mercy for the enemy team goal,
Datsyuk in the cage still hidden talents!
Rages adrenaline again branded bullet.
Faster than a bullet flies straight into the goal.
Buzzing stadium, people light fires,
Number thirteenth for them - it's number one!
No gloves at the rink somehow cool
But if Corey Perry against - then fine.
To be a hero - do not have to be a mountain,
If you have the talent - work carved diamond.
When the season ends, but failed excitement,
The schedule of fishing, football, billiards.
Instincts come in handy
In Down Town Detroit does not get lost.
Only high-profile victories will be in front,
Though it was a lot of them on his way.
Datsyuk in the future more will receive the grand prize,
When the cup win, "Motorist"!
As for Bergishev's interview, the highlights involve the following:
- Datsyuk's pupils include the son of Russian actor Mikhail Porechenkov, and Aleksey Morozov's brother, Valentin, is helping coach the kids;
- Datsyuk's goal for his camp involves helping the players with confidence as well as their skills, and he's very proud of the fact that his mostly American and Canadian coaches are learning some basic Russian commands;
- He says that he was "recharged" by playing for CSKA Moscow during the lockout, but he's happy to have re-signed with the Wings, he says that CSKA didn't have a realistic chance of signing him, and yes, he reiterates the concept that he'd eventually like to finish his career playing in Russia as a thank-you to his Russian fans;
- He really was touched by receiving the Sovetsky Sport scrapbook;
- And while he joked about his contract bankrupting the City of Detroit, he says that it's not a funny matter at all, seeing people struggle with less and less and have to leave the area to find work.
In the scuttlebutt department, we may all feel warm and fuzzy because Ottawa Senators defenseman Marc Methot told the Ottawa Sun's Tim Baines that he holds no ill will toward Daniel Alfredsson...
"I don't know what went on, I'm left in the dark like most players on the team," said Methot. "But you have to respect his decision. He's done so much for this city. It's kind of hard to hold a grudge against him. I wish him all the best.
"You can't replace a guy like Alfie. He was one heck of a mentor to learn off. He was mentoring a lot of the younger guys. We had the entire Swedish mafia on our hockey team, guys that looked up to him. It's an opportunity for a lot of those guys to mature and do their own thing.
"We have a lot of great leaders. You've got guys like Spezz (Jason Spezza), Philly (Chris Phillips) and Neiler (Chris Neil). I want to take the reins, too. I want to be a vocal leader in the dressing room. I'm not going to change anything. It's just the way I am. There are plenty of other players on our team that can do it, too."
- The Hockey News's Rory Boylen did an excellent job of explaining why the Czech and Slovak teams have struggled at international competitions, and may struggle in the Olympics--duly noting that Petr Mrazek was blacklisted for daring to play for the Ottawa 67's instead of staying "home";
- And while the Free Press's Helene St. James and, to some extent, Daniel Cleary's agent believe that Cleary may return to Detroit, it's worth noting that DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose isn't so sure:
"Looking forward," the Free Press's Helene St. James offered an analysis of Justin Abdelkader's potential worth to the team as he hopes to build upon his 2013 season in an article that hit the wires on Wednesday morning, and today, she ponders Daniel Alfredsson's potential impact:
The first week of a July got very interesting for the Wings when seemingly Senator-for-life Alfredsson decided he wanted a better chance to win an elusive Stanley Cup and picked Detroit. At 40, the window is cell-block sized, so it speaks to how highly he thinks of the Wings that he chose them over the Bruins, who were equally interested and had just made it to the Stanley Cup finals.
The Wings, in turn, were very interested in Alfredsson. He has been a consistent 20-goal scorer or more. He’s a right-handed shot, which the Wings need both in their top-six mix and on their power play. He’s looking for his first Stanley Cup, something the Wings hope can motivate teammates the way it did with the aging Dallas Drake in 2008. Alfredsson, the former captain in Ottawa, brings leadership, maturity and a solid work ethic. He’s Swedish, and the Wings love Swedish hockey players for good reason.
Alfredsson likely will end up playing right wing next to fellow newcomer and Stephen Weiss, with Johan Franzen on the opposite wing. Alfredsson won’t be out against opposing top defenders, as they’ll be matched against Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. Alfredsson can be saved some wear and tear as he’s not needed to kill penalties. On the other hand, it’s hard to think Alfredsson won’t help the power play, both by being a natural to play the right point and by being a swift puck distributor.
Alfredsson is relatively low-risk for the Wings, as he’s only under contract for one year. Getting a smooth-skating, highly skilled veteran ardent for a Stanley Cup was an easy investment.
Alfredsson may be 40 years old, but he's still at least a 20-goal-scorer and 50-point-producing player, he's a good two-way presence, and while I'll never understand the Wings' preoccupation with putting a right-shooting forward on the point on the power play, he's at least familiar with the position.
The other hard-hitting news of the morning comes in "rearview mirror" status as Michigan Hockey made its July 22nd issue, which includes stories about the Grand Rapids Griffins' Calder Cup run, the Wings' draft haul and the summer development camp on Issu.com;
In the alumni department, part 1: Sportsline's Brian Stubits suggests that Chris Chelios is indeed one of the Chicago Blackhawks' all-time best players (um, why, yes, he victimized the Wings for eight years before joining them);
Chris Chelios: Chelios might not be the most popular player in the Windy City these days but there's no denying how good he was for his seven seasons in Chicago. He had a strike against him from the start when the Blackhawks acquired him from Montreal as it cost them Savard in a trade. But it didn't take long for the hometown kid to win people over.
Chicago didn't get Chelios until he was 29 years old but they still got some of the man's best hockey. He won the Norris Trophy twice in his seven-plus seasons with the Blackhawks and put up some monster point numbers (twice above 72) while playing ferocious and pestering defense. There was never a season in his time with Chicago that he didn't take part in the All-Star Game repping the Hawks.
Unfortunately for him he was in Chicago when things went way south with the franchise and he found himself out of town to the hated Red Wings, something fans carry a resentment over still today. But there's no doubt that Chelios was great as a Hawk and should be on this squad, hands down.
And he may have been a Red Wing for all of five minutes, but the Windsor Star's Jim Parker reports that LaSalle, ON native Andy Delmore has retired at 36, and that he'll work as an assistant coach with the Sarnia Sting. He played in 54 games for the Grand Rapids Griffins during the 2008-2009 season, and the Wings did have bigger plans for him, but the whole Chelios-Meech-Quincey fandango ended up keeping Delmore in the AHL.
In the charitable news department, via RedWingsFeed, if you find yourself in Toronto today, you can play ping pong against Kyle Quincey, Brendan Smith, Steven Stamkos and a host of NHL'ers at the "Smashfest" ping pong event to raise funds for the Katie Moore foundation for rare cancers;
And the Joe Kocur Foundation's reminding fans that its charity softball game in Highland, MI will take place on August 24th, and it's going to include oodles of Wings alums:
Sorry for being a bit scatterbrained over the last couple of days. The aunt gave me a summer flu bug, so the brain's a bit foggy.
Update: For what it's worth, Paul and I are still working hard every day--we're just taking a deep breath here and not putting in as many 12-14 hour days thanks to the first "quiet" period since last year at this time.
I know that this isn't your favorite time of year, but the "dead zone" still requires me to peruse the usual 40+ English-language and 40+ Russian, German, Swedish, Czech, Slovak and Finnish-language news websites, and I'm still working as best as I can to find substantive content whenever possible. I'm just also recharging my batteries, which has been long overdue.
If you're interested, Tomas Tatar will be holding a chat on CAS.sk at 10:15 AM Slovak time today--which is, uh...4:15 AM EDT...
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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.