Red Wings moving forward with plans for new arena, entertainment district

Not only could the Detroit Red Wings see a new venue in the very near future, but the city of Detroit could experience a much needed makeover as well.

The announcement surfaced yesterday that the Ilitch family, who owns the Red Wings, plans to construct a brand new, multi-purpose events facility in the heart of Downtown Detroit that would also house the Red Wings. In addition to the new facility, the Ilitch’s grand plan involves the construction of residential and commercial centers in the nearby area to create a booming entertainment district in Detroit.

This comes months after news leaked that the Ilitch family had hired an architecture firm to draw up some preliminary designs for a new arena.

“It’s always been my dream to once again see a vibrant downtown Detroit,” Ilitch Holdings Chairman Mike Ilitch said in a release. “From the time we bought the Fox Theatre, I could envision a downtown where the streets were bustling and people were energized.  It’s been a slow process at times, but we’re getting there now and a lot of great people are coming together to make it happen. It’s going to happen and I want to keep us moving toward that vision.”

According to, the development hinges on the passage of state legislation that allows for use of Downtown Development Authority (DDA) funds. The goal is to have the multi-use facility funded by a mix of private investment and existing money collected by Detroit’s DDA. This would allow the development to be built sans any new taxes, but the state Senate needs to pass a bill allowing the DDA to continue to get money for these types of projects.

A Senate committee unanimously approved the passage of the bill on Tuesday, which paves the way for a full Senate vote on Wednesday.

While the development would cost an estimated $650 million, it is expected to create 5,500 jobs for the events center and an estimated 8,300 new positions for the so-called entertainment district, which would include residential housing, retail shopping, office space and more.

“This plan makes good business sense for two reasons,” George W. Jackson, Jr., president and CEO of Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, said in the release.  “First, it’s not a plan for an isolated, single-use structure.  Instead, it builds on the clear successes we’ve already had downtown integrating districts that feature entertainment, and support commercial, retail and residential development around them.  Second, it doesn’t impose any new tax burdens; it simply continues a program for retiring debt related to economic development.  It’s hard to argue with that.”

The exact location of the development has not been determined yet, but will be centrally located within the downtown area. Three separate areas have been suggested as possible locations for the new development.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *