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Michigan Senate approves use of tax money for new Wings arena

Dec 6, 2012, 12:59 PM EDT

Mike Ilitch AP

Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch got some good news Wednesday when the Michigan Senate approved legislation allowing public funds to be used to help build a new downtown arena for the hockey club.

The vote, however, was far from unanimous, with critics arguing the money should go towards education, not to subsidize pro sports.

From the Associated Press:

The bill approved by the Senate would allow use of tax dollars collected by the city’s Downtown Development Authority for the project. DDAs capture shares of local tax revenue to support development activities such as marketing and buying property.

Senate Democratic leader Gretchen Whitmer opposed the measure as a drain on funding for Detroit’s public schools.

The city’s DDA has been allowed for nearly two decades to pay down general obligation bonds with about $12.8 million a year that otherwise would have gone to education, she said. Now that those bonds are paid off, the bill would tap that same revenue stream for Ilitch’s project instead of finally steering the money back to education.

“This is a direct subsidy by school kids to allow a billionaire to build a hockey arena,” Whitmer said. “That’s the Republican agenda we all know and love. … It makes me sick. I hear my colleagues say, ‘Oh, this is for Detroit and we’re all in favor of Detroit now,’ because one billionaire called you.'”

Supporters of the bill argue the $650 million development will create 8,300 new construction jobs and pump millions of dollars into the economy, with no new taxes required.

The legislation still needs to be approved by the state’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

  1. mrchainbluelightning - Dec 6, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    Nobody in Michigan says no to Mr. Illitch

    • mrchainbluelightning - Dec 6, 2012 at 1:24 PM

      Gretchen Whitmer and the shrinking 50,000 people she represents can go pound sand. How many of that 50k totally supports the needed and deserved arena?

      Yes yes you slimy lawyer turned state senator this is totally about republicans screwing lil kids to give some billionaire an arena. Notice how she doesn’t say Mr.Illitch by name? She knows that wouldn’t help her at all, just leave it at “one billionaire”.

      How much money has Illitch POURED directly and indirectly in the the Michigan economy? Ask her how much money is made in the bars and restaurants when the Tigers and Wings play?

  2. myroncopesflask - Dec 6, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    Who cares if the rest of the city resembles a post apocolyptic wasteland… as long as the redwings have a shiney new areana all is well.

    • mrchainbluelightning - Dec 6, 2012 at 1:27 PM

      Nevermind the jobs created right?

      Myron is right, burn the city to the ground, salt the earth and move on.

      Build nothing, change nothing, everyone stay out of work and things might get better in the area…..

    • zetaone - Dec 6, 2012 at 1:56 PM

      Like I said before, at least the 20,000 homeless in Detroit can use the vacant Joe Louis Arena as a shelter when the new arena is built. I’m sure they’ll be thankful.

    • shoobiedoobin - Dec 6, 2012 at 2:13 PM

      Yet another sheep jumping on the “city sucks” bandwagon. It’s not nearly as bad as you or the other schmucks love to pretend it is.

      • mrchainbluelightning - Dec 6, 2012 at 2:51 PM

        Oh yes, sure are a lot of people… not from and never been… to Michigan or Detroit that can tell you everything they think they know about it.

        I judge New York by Harlem

        And I do get a kick out of the clueless here who figures you don’t build the economy before you address public schools.
        Uh huh, all you geniuses out there prefer building schools and improving them in places that are…. going DEAD because of a lack of economy.

        Lots of parents are totally moving into areas with no work and little business for better schools. No wait that’s stupid and never happens.

        I’ve never voted for a conservative party in my life, but I know STUPID when I see it and judging thumbs up and thumbs down, this place is filled with partisan stupidity and cluelessness.

      • zetaone - Dec 6, 2012 at 8:44 PM

        @ mrchainblue

        So you’d build a casino and strip club before building a state of the art elementary and high school? Makes… sense… Building venues where people can spend money and put it back into the economy is great, if your citizens HAVE money to even spend it in the first place.

        It goes back to the adage of – ‘Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish feed him for life’

        I seriously can’t believe people defend building entertainment attractions over trying to better your city through education.

        Education leads to jobs. Jobs lead to money. Money people can then spend on your non-essentials like arenas and clubs etc..

      • shoobiedoobin - Dec 6, 2012 at 11:55 PM

        Lots of comments from people with no clue about Mike Illitch. The guy has basically been a saint in Detroit. Listen to locals speak about him, he’s much more than a sports owner with an arena. He loves the city and wants to improve it. You don’t find many human beings with money who are like him.

        He’s put his life into that city and if you had an inkling as to his history you wouldn’t think this was “choosing an arena over a school”. Why is it that when he wants to reasonably replace an aging arena he has to build 10 schools first? Like it’s that simple.

        Oh and wait to dodge the fact you’re a sheep who jumped on the “detroit sucks” bandwagon. The internet breeds idiots.

  3. paledevil - Dec 6, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    Play the “its a wondeful life” game with this guy …. Than talk about where Detroit and the leagues would be without him…

  4. garrison1981 - Dec 6, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    They’ve built new schools that keep getting ruined and half population doest even go! Yesterday I just drove by an amazingly beautiful new school just built n unfortunately first thing to pop in head is when’s the first window gonna be blown out or first kid murdered! If u can’t take care of what u already had n have what makes anyone believe h deserve more! Illich is the best thing that’s happens to Detroit since Motown n he vision that he’s had for 20 yrs is gonna bring many jos and tons of revenue to this city that so much needs it ! Remember the only safe and nice place to hang out in Detroit is majoritly owner by Mr Illitch ! Thank you Illitch family for seeming to be the only one trying to keep Detroit alive!!

  5. weaselpuppy - Dec 6, 2012 at 11:48 PM

    Build a man a fire and he’ll be warm for a day. Set him on fire and he’ll be warm the rest of his life….

    that’s Detroit politics…..

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