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Detroit plans for new downtown arena

by Staff Writer / Detroit Red Wings

DETROIT - The Red Wings and city officials on Wednesday announced a $650 million plan for a new arena development for the NHL team in Detroit's downtown entertainment and sports district.

Plans for the 18,000-seat arena were announced Wednesday at a meeting of economic development officials to approve the deal. Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch has long said he wanted a replacement for the 32-year-old Joe Louis Arena.

The Red Wings said there will be $367 million in private investment and $283 million in public funds in the complex, which would also include residential, retail and office space. Developers said the public money would come from existing economic development funds and requires no new taxes or funds from the cash-strapped city, which is the largest in the country under state financial oversight.

The city's Downtown Development Authority approved a memorandum of understanding with Wayne County, home to Detroit, and Olympia Development of Michigan, which is owned by Mike and Marian Ilitch. Mike Ilitch also owns the Detroit Tigers, and his family owns Little Caesars Pizza and downtown Detroit's Fox Theatre.

The arena would be at Interstate 75 and Woodward Avenue, near the Detroit Tigers' Comerica Park and the Detroit Lions' Ford Field.

Michigan lawmakers in December approved a measure allowing tax dollars collected by the Downtown Development Authority to be used for the development. The DDA has been allowed for nearly two decades to pay down Detroit's general obligation bonds with about $12.8 million a year that otherwise would have gone to education statewide.

Developers and supporters of that legislation said it will create upward of 8,300 new construction jobs and pump $1 billion into Michigan's economy. Opponents counter that funding a private stadium with taxpayer dollars shouldn't be a priority, especially when that money was otherwise going to the School Aid Fund.

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