Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Will Get Fooled Again

The city of Detroit is broke. Flat broke, busted, bankrupt. The mayor is walking around naked wearing nothing but a barrel. In order to alleviate their fiscal distress the city is considering resorting to extreme measures such as auctioning off works from the city’s art museums. They’re simply not enough money to pay the city’s existing and future obligations and in order to get out this mess the pain of austerity is going to have to be shared by all in Detroit.

Well, not quite all. Plans unveiled for $650M Red Wings arena, entertainment district in Detroit:

Calling it a “starting point,” plans for a $650 million Red Wings hockey arena and entertainment district are being unveiled Wednesday before the city’s development arm.

The plan by Olympia Development, which officials say would be supported by 56 percent in private money and 44 percent in public funding, features an 18,000-seat arena along Woodard Avenue just north of the Fox Theatre between Interstate 75 and Temple Street.

More details are emerging at a special board meeting of the Downtown Development Authority Wednesday. The News already has reported that the DDA is considering making an annual grant of nearly $13 million for the project.

Under the concept proposed by Ilitch Holdings, the new hockey arena or multipurpose events center would anchor a 35-acre downtown district featuring sports, entertainment, stores and housing near the Ilitch family’s company headquarters in the restored Fox Theatre on Woodward Avenue and nearby Comerica Park, the home built for Mike Ilitch’s Detroit Tigers.

The $12.8 million comes from school taxes collected by the Downtown Development Authority. This revenue stream, which could vary each year depending on the economy, would pay for bonds that would be used to finance construction.

No matter where the “public funding” comes from (city, county, state, etc.) the idea that Detroit is even considering chipping in so that the Red Wings’ owner can get a new arena (and more) while the city and its residents are suffering through the agonizing throes of bankruptcy is absurd. If we can’t draw a line and stop the madness of publicly subsiding sports stadiums for private owners here then we might as well just throw in the towel and give up hope of having a sane and reasonable civic society.