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Ilitch pitches new downtown arena for Wings

Dec 4, 2012, 4:32 PM EDT

Image (1) 1-joelouisarena-thumb-250x164-10997.jpg for post 1472

Red Wings ownership is proposing a $650 million development for downtown Detroit that would be anchored by a new arena for the NHL club.

The development being pitched to state lawmakers would be a public-private partnership that includes both commercial and residential components. Otherwise, details are scant.

“It’s always been my dream to once again see a vibrant downtown Detroit,” said Wings owner Mike Ilitch in a press release.

A new downtown home for the Wings has been the subject of speculation for years. The team’s present home, Joe Louis Arena, opened in 1979, making it the fourth oldest arena in the league.

The oldest arena in the NHL is Madison Square (1968), which is currently undergoing an extensive renovation.

The second oldest is Nassau Coliseum (1972), home of the Islanders, who will be moving to a new building in Brooklyn in 2015.

The third oldest is Edmonton’s Rexall Place (1974). The Oilers are also hoping to build a new downtown rink, though plans have recently hit a snag.

Related: Architects reportedly hired to design new Red Wings arena

  1. tmoore4075 - Dec 4, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    Much much needed. Although I have to say while the JLA is a crap hole in many respects the sight lines are fantastic. Not one bad seat in the house. My guess is that will change when they add many more boxes at the new place.

  2. zetaone - Dec 4, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    The cynic in me says to take the $650 million and use it to develop the city and help bring jobs back. That’s how you’ll fix Detroit. Not with a new hockey arena..

    • capesouth - Dec 4, 2012 at 5:07 PM

      I would say that’s what this is doing. It’s not just an arena. This would create jobs and probably spark some much needed growth and excitement in the city.

      • zetaone - Dec 4, 2012 at 5:09 PM

        With the majority of the $650 million tied up into the arena, it’s hard to argue that point. When you can spread that money elsewhere; other public works projects, help clean up the cities, build homes, offer tax incentives to lure new businesses, etc.

        But this is ‘Murica where the dollar is king and people come second.

      • zetaone - Dec 4, 2012 at 5:38 PM

        It really boils down to, yes a new arena will help the city and create some jobs, and bring more income.

        HOWEVER, if maybe a small amount of that money was used to renovate JLA instead, and spend the rest on many more projects that would bring in far more jobs than just one arena project can.

        Once the city is prosperous again, then build your brand new mega arena complex. Silly idea, I know.

      • capesouth - Dec 4, 2012 at 5:59 PM

        The money is there because this project is what it is. I don’t think you can assume that $650 million in cash is just sitting there, available to use on anything, and that the city chose to just use it on an arena. Public funds are being used but certainly not $650 million worth. This project doesn’t float without private financing. Can’t blame the city for considering taking advantage of an opportunity/partnership like this bc that opportunity may not last. Plus, who is to say that passing up on a real, tangible opportunity for growth, like this one, is somehow worse than holding onto that money and maybe, possibly pursuing “many” projects that may, perhaps create more growth? In other words, this is an actual, real opportunity where they feel they are maximizing job growth, nevermind the excitement that can come from a project like this. It could be said Detroit, more than any other city, could use something like this.

      • zetaone - Dec 4, 2012 at 6:36 PM

        Oh I completely understand the circumstances. I just wish we as a society could manage to find $650 of public funds to help a city in need that doesn’t have to hang on the coat tails of a sport to happen.

        Ignore me though, it’s just another case of me bringing philosophy into a hockey website.. probably not the best venue (pun not intended).

      • zetaone - Dec 4, 2012 at 6:50 PM

        At any rate, if they do build a new arena, at least they can use the old JLA as a place for the 20,000 homeless in Detroit.

    • capesouth - Dec 4, 2012 at 7:31 PM

      Don’t get me started on the inefficiency of spending ‘societies’ money. The money, IMO, is there to feed and shelter the homeless , create jobs, and do whatever else is important. The ones who get to spend that money though don’t do it effectively. It’s not that there isn’t enough money, it’s that nobody knows how to use it or knows how to say ‘no’. The complaint though is always, “we don’t have the funds” or “the economy is just not performing well enough”, etc.

      As far as JLA goes, I am never against improving and re-vitalizing an old venue (vs tearing it down and starting over). I think the older venues have so much more character than the new ones. I’m a Boston fan and I love what they’ve done to fenway. It is a unique experience to go there. People tend to take pride in their home venue when it’s so old and there is so much history, especially winning history, like Detroit.

      • druhlman - Dec 4, 2012 at 8:54 PM

        Actually according to numerous news papers a large majority of the money for this project is privately financed, with the supplements coming from different initiatives. They have even came forward saying that taxes will not be used to finance this project. As far as the revitalizing old venues I think JLA isn’t the venue to do that with, as it has been stated that it would take a large amount of money to just renovate the venue and bring it on par with most modern arenas. I personally believe a throwback venue more closely resembling the old Olympia would be a more welcome site, especially with all the updated amenities. Sort of like a cathedral to hockey.

  3. kiopta1 - Dec 4, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    If they do I want a piece of the Joe.

  4. mattdaddy7 - Dec 4, 2012 at 5:08 PM

    How about Ilitch (and all other 29 NHL owners, for that matter) pitch an idea to actually get the NHL to play hockey again…Preferrably BEFORE trying to get a new stadium built!

    • bensawesomeness - Dec 4, 2012 at 6:02 PM

      I agree with you, but Illitch has always given me a vibe that he’s a reasonable guy, something tells me he’s not the reason it’s December and we’ve yet to play

  5. meane56 - Dec 4, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    How about Ilitch builds it with his own money, just like the villain Jeremy Jacobs did when he spent $160 Million of HIS money back in 1995.

  6. dbarnes79 - Dec 4, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    It’s funny how buildings like the Montreal Forum and Maple Leaf Gardens lasted over 70 years and now teams are replacing buildings half that age.

  7. hockinj25 - Dec 4, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    As long as they move the troughs from the bathrooms in the Joe to the new arena I’m all for this.

  8. redwingsfan999 - Dec 4, 2012 at 6:41 PM

    I really like the joe, it has a nice safe, home like feeling to it and so much history has happened there that I wish the wings could play there forever, but a new arena would be good for the wings and the city

  9. wills19 - Dec 4, 2012 at 9:43 PM

    It will be nice to get a new arena but at the same time so much history in the Joe and it will suck to see them play somewhere else

  10. bensawesomeness - Dec 5, 2012 at 12:01 AM

    PHT – you guys need a new stock photo of the Joe – they’ve retired Yzerman’s 19 , picture feels empty without it ( and hopefuly soon, Lidstrom’s 5 )

  11. hockeydon10 - Dec 5, 2012 at 6:17 AM

    Gordie Howe Arena

    Skip the corporate name.
    Honor a legend.

    Too bad that won’t happen.

  12. dsticks11 - Dec 5, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    This will give more information on this story:

    http://www.freep.com/article/20121204/NEWS01/121204054/?odyssey=tab|mostpopular|text|FRONTPAGE

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