DETROIT – Olympia Entertainment today informed the city of Detroit via personal phone call and hand-delivered letter that, pursuant to the terms of its current lease, Olympia Entertainment will not exercise its option to extend the current lease on the Joe Louis and Cobo Arenas for an additional 20 years.
The current lease, which covers both arenas, expires on June 30, 2010, and automatically renews for 20 years if Olympia Entertainment did not notify the city of its decision on the option by June 30, 2009. Olympia’s decision to not extend the current lease returns Cobo Arena to the city of Detroit and should assist officials in their efforts to keep the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. This action also allows Olympia Entertainment and the city of Detroit to continue work on a new lease specifically for Joe Louis Arena.
“The existing lease was crafted more than three decades ago by individuals no longer associated with either Olympia Entertainment or the city,” said Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, Inc. “It does not fully contemplate one: the evolution of the sports and entertainment industry; two: the current economic environment in which both the city and Olympia Entertainment are operating and; three: the infrastructure replacement and repair needs of a 30-year-old building in order to meet the competitive industry standards of today.
“Furthermore, we have been and continue to be very supportive of keeping the auto show in Detroit and this is one way we think our organization can help meet that objective. We believe that any economic benefit to Olympia Entertainment by continuing to operate Cobo Arena in the future is outweighed by the potential that a positive resolution on the Cobo issue will have for the region and state.
“Due to these very important factors, we have been working constructively with the city over the course of the past year on a new lease specifically for Joe Louis Arena. To date, an agreement has not been finalized and today’s action is simply a necessary step in the process as we continue to work together to develop a new lease.
“Detroit is our hometown and we have a strong desire to stay here. We remain confident that we can reach a satisfactory agreement that should not only enhance the sporting and entertainment experience for patrons of the facility, but will lead to additional economic benefit for the region and the potential for additional job creation as the facility attracts more events and performances.”
About Joe Louis Arena Joe Louis Arena was built by the city of Detroit and opened in 1979. Michael and Marian Ilitch purchased the Detroit Red Wings and the company currently known as Olympia Entertainment in 1982. Olympia Entertainment leases Joe Louis Arena from the city of Detroit, which owns the building. Joe Louis Arena is currently the fourth oldest arena in the NHL. It is home to the 11-time Stanley Cup champion Red Wings and host to major artists and performers for concerts and other entertainment events. The Red Wings will play the 2009-10 season at Joe Louis Arena.
About Cobo Arena Cobo Arena opened in 1960 and has a seating capacity of 12,000. It has a storied history of hosting memorable sporting, concert and entertainment events, including being the home of the Detroit Pistons from 1961-78. In addition, it is widely recognized as having some of the best acoustics in the industry and many notable artists like Bob Seger, Ted Nugent and Madonna have recorded live concert albums at Cobo Arena. Olympia Entertainment has leased Cobo Arena from the city of Detroit, which owns the building, since 1982. For nearly three decades, it has been successful and an important part of Olympia Entertainment’s venue mix, rounding out its spectrum of venues ranging from 300–40,000 seats.