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Report: Red Wings may owe up to $70 million to the City of Detroit

Dec 26, 2012, 10:25 AM EDT

Mike Ilitch AP

The Detroit Red Wings’ plans to build a new arena came under scrutiny thanks to them getting taxpayer money to fund the project. A recent financial report won’t be doing the team any favors for how things look on the surface.

Christine MacDonald of The Detroit News reports the team and owner Mike Ilitch may owe the struggling city up to $70 million thanks to an old provision in the team’s television contract as it concerns the city-owned Joe Louis Arena. As you might suspect, this isn’t going over well with city politicians.

“The Ilitches are a multibillion-dollar operation, and they are inside a city that is sinking,” said City Councilman Kwame Kenyatta. “(Mike Ilitch), I am sure, knows about this and should be forthcoming to help the city. Help us by writing a check, not by negotiating a new lease.”

Oh yeah, the lease. The team’s lease to play at The Joe expired in 2010. Since then, the team reportedly hasn’t paid rent nor property taxes to play there and the city hasn’t gotten their cut of concessions either. Whoops.

As George Malik of blog Abel To Yzerman says, however, Detroit’s financial problems are huge and what the Wings may or may not owe the city is just a drop in a very broke bucket. That said, perhaps the city should think about forking money over for a new building if they’re owed such a big stack of cash as it is.

  1. pondhockeyallstar - Dec 26, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    Is it really any surprise that the illitch’s are criminals?? I think not.

    • bensawesomeness - Dec 26, 2012 at 8:16 PM

      The Illich’s have done more for this city than you’ve done for your front yard.

  2. 13datsyuk13 - Dec 26, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    The Illitch family are far from criminals. They are responsible for many youth hockey leagues and camps throughout the country. Plus anyone offering a $5 hot and ready pizza can’t be that bad.

    • hockeyflow33 - Dec 26, 2012 at 2:02 PM

      Have you eaten the pizza? $5 is far too expensive

      • bensawesomeness - Dec 27, 2012 at 2:01 AM

        as a college kid, that 5 dollar pizza has been my saving grace on multiple occasions.

  3. garryjercia - Dec 26, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    Why would the city do that. Taxpayer funded arenas aren’t even economically responsible for cities that can afford them.
    Detroit is obviously not on that list. Plus the Wings would be the last franchise that I would believe could relocate.

  4. sportsfan69 - Dec 26, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    This should be a reality check to the NHLPA, that even a franchise like Detroit Red Wings is in financial trouble. Stop screwing around and save your jobs before there is no job to go back to.

    Unless your interested playing in Europe with a huge pay cut. You have to ask yourselves that question, at what point is it worth it. ??????

    • thomaspratt - Dec 26, 2012 at 1:06 PM

      I guess that’s one way to look at it. If I am a player and I see that even the vaunted Red Wings are troubled, I see it as an indictment of the league’s business model. It doesn’t make me more excited to get back into business with the league at any cost, because I know nothing that has ever been discussed during this negotiation relates to saving troubled franchises — limited revenue sharing, no luxury tax — and the player contracting rule changes will tie players in bad markets to those markets for years longer. The weak and failing markets are still going to be weak and likely to fail once the league starts up again.

      • crosberries - Dec 26, 2012 at 6:42 PM

        I’m not sure they are saying the red wings are in financial trouble but just that they were never paying their bills and it somehow got over looked. If they are found that they owe that money then they could be in trouble

  5. acieu - Dec 26, 2012 at 11:42 AM

    Move the franchise to Windsor!

  6. acieu - Dec 26, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    Move the franchise to London ON!

  7. acieu - Dec 26, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    Move the franchise to Sarnia!

  8. ghouchens - Dec 26, 2012 at 12:18 PM

    Same old “save me, save me” routine from the Detroit City Council. Why would Ilitch want to throw good money after bad and renew a lease on a decrepid old arena? Just to pour more money into the coffers of a city leadership that doesnt know how to control spending?
    Wake up to reality, Kwame Kenyatta! Detroit needs new thinking on their City Council.

  9. richmanfl - Dec 26, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    How can any Municipality allow city property to go without tax collection, lease collection, and a share of concessions? The heads should roll for every department who is responsible for the egregious “oversight” and shame on the news stations and newspapers for failing to even remotely pick up on this! Instead of belly-aching on how poor the city is, how about getting people in places of power who can actually PAY ATTENTION to what is owed them and COLLECT!

    Another WALL OF SHAME plaque goes to the Michigan legislature for voting to fund a new stadium when the Red Wings don’t pay their bills on the one they currently reside in. I find it impossible to fathom that the ownership lobbies the legislature, and not a single reporter looks into the fiscal side of the Red Wings to properly report. Christ! It is public record! And through 3 budget sessions for the city, and not a single person points out that the team owes the city? Lock the doors, and see who ponies up the money to play (strike notwithstanding). What will they do.. relocate? What city in their right mind would want a team that cannot pay their bills?

    I say….

    No new stadiums…. no 5 & 6 figure salaries for players….. and get the stadiums filled with people at an affordable ticket rate, and if the players don’t like it…. I hear Russia is looking for some players to work for VODKA!

    • richmanfl - Dec 26, 2012 at 12:26 PM

      Forgot… the 5 & 6 figure salaries were PER GAME….. LOL

  10. johngaltx - Dec 26, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    “That said, perhaps the city should think about forking money over for a new building if they’re owed such a big stack of cash as it is.”

    Should say “…think about NOT forking money over…”, right?

  11. blomfeld - Dec 26, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    “perhaps the city should think about forking money over for a new building” …

    True enough I suppose? But better yet, how about if everyone think about buying a NORTH AMERICAN BUILT CAR for a change! If you people want to truly make a difference for our brothers and sisters in that region, then do so with your wallets the next time you step out to make the 2nd biggest purchase of your life! You don’t go and buy a MADE IN CHINA home or apartment do you? … of course not! So why stop there? Do the “right” thing friends and think NORTH AMERICAN the next time you make a vehicular purchase. I did and I feel like a “King” for it ! :)

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Dec 26, 2012 at 5:11 PM

      Honda Civics are made in Greensburg, Indiana and Alliston, Ontario. Toyota Corollas are made in Cambridge, Ontario, Freemont, California and Blue Springs, Mississippi. BMW X5s are made in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

      Meanwhile Ford, Chevrolet, and Chrysler make cars in Russia, all over Asia, Mexico etc.

      The notion that all North American cars are made in Detroit and all foreign cars are madsilver seas is antiquated.

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Dec 26, 2012 at 5:11 PM

        Madsilver means overseas….damn you autocorrect!

      • garyengel - Dec 27, 2012 at 1:40 PM

        I don’t care “madsilver” is sweet! I’m saying madsilver seas from now on!

      • lionstigersandwingsohmy - Dec 27, 2012 at 1:45 PM

        It’s not just where the cars are assembled, it’s where the parts are made. A lot of Japanese cars are made with a vast majority of there parts made in Japan. While the US auto makers do use some foreign parts, the majority are made in the US and Canada, providing jobs and a tax base at home.

  12. pondhockeyallstar - Dec 26, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    The red wings are not losing money you idiots. they make cash hand over fist. more bullshi7 from another NHL owner.

  13. florida727 - Dec 26, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    If the city is that stupid that they let my hockey team play all its games in their arena without having me under contract, why would I sign one? Why would I split concession revenues with them either? Until the city locks the arena doors on game night and I can’t stage a scheduled game, why should I give them anything. They’re the idiots.

    Respectfully, Michael Ilitch…

  14. truwarier90 - Dec 26, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    if the illitches are so great, how come they cant a high priced goalie like ryan miller, the illitches are flukes that got lucky when they landed lidstrom, yzerman, federov and bowman.

    • id4joey - Dec 26, 2012 at 3:53 PM

      Truwarier90, you got to be kidding. Do you have any idea how you build a winning hockey team? Everything starts with drafting well. Then you develop those draft choices, and make a few tweaks by trading for players. Take a look at the draft history of the Wings and you’ll gain a very clear perspective on what makes the Wings what they are.

      • jtrain1966 - Dec 26, 2012 at 4:26 PM

        DAMN ! I’m a St. Louis Blues fan, & even i know that ! Truwarier90, you have to be a fan of the Maple Leafs if you’re spouting off like that ! My only wish is the Blues could get smart enough people to figure that out then, we as Blues fans could enjoy what you guys do : winning championships ! Until then they’ll keep producing ” CHOKE ARTIST ” type of teams !

    • garyengel - Dec 27, 2012 at 1:45 PM

      and Datsyuk and Holmstrom and Filppula and Zetterberg and Kronwall and Helm and … I don’t have time for this moron who thinks a team this great is because of luck.

  15. weaselpuppy - Dec 26, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    flukes when they got Shanny and the Grind Line and Probie and Hull and Robitaille and the Dominator and Ciccarelli and Zetts and Datsyuk and The Mule and Ozzie and Vernon and Kronwall and Vladdy and Fischer and Slava and Klima and and and and

    1) You really don’t understand the meaning of the word fluke.

    2) It’s a good thing that the NBC sites and MLBTR allows dumb on their boards,otherwise you’d be writing letters to newspaper editors in crayon.

  16. beedubyatoo - Dec 26, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    If Ilittch gives the City of Detroit $70 million, then the city can make it until the weekend before they formally declare bankrupcy.

  17. justusandrudi2 - Dec 26, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    “The Ilitches are a multibillion-dollar operation, and they are inside a city that is sinking,” said City Councilman Kwame Kenyatta. Correct, Swami Kwame. And you and your illiterate overpaid/under educated thieves on the Council couldn’t remember that the lease expired in 2010??? Maybe Illitch should move the Tigers, Red Wings, Little Caesars World Headquarters, close up the Fox and maybe Kwame Kilpatrick will come back and save the City…. Thank Jimmy Devallano for the good years.

    • verlandersrightarm - Dec 27, 2012 at 6:57 PM

      The city council was to busy too find somebody else to blame besides themselves for why the city is sinking. Today Illitch/Red Wings, tomorrow it’ll be somebody else. I hope when he does build the new arena it’s right next to I-75 so I don’t have to spend anymore time there than I have to.

  18. tyn27 - Dec 26, 2012 at 6:08 PM

    Move the Wings to Seattle or Canada and just tear that whole crap hole of a city down. I would hate to be player for a Detroit sports team. That city is disgusting.

    • Christophe Remington - Dec 27, 2012 at 11:35 AM

      move the Wings to Milwaukee, WI

    • garyengel - Dec 27, 2012 at 1:49 PM

      and when was the last time you were there? My guess is never. So nice post on something you know nothing about. You’re like my 4-year old who says he hates a food he’s never tried.

  19. drewsylvania - Dec 26, 2012 at 7:24 PM

    Every major sports team should buy their own damn arena.

  20. mogogo1 - Dec 26, 2012 at 11:11 PM

    “Detroit’s financial problems are huge and what the Wings may or may not owe the city is just a drop in a very broke bucket. ”

    The problems facing Detroit have their seeds decades ago and would have challenged even the best-run city, but part of the problem without a doubt is countless deals that amount to “just a drop in the bucket.”

  21. xjokerz - Dec 26, 2012 at 11:24 PM

    Had to sign fielder somehow eh Jew ?

  22. xjokerz - Dec 26, 2012 at 11:28 PM

    Btw 2 years with no taxes paid ? Typical 1 preventers ” Jewing ” the city. What a joke. And I love in michigan and a diehard wings tigers lions pistons fan.

  23. manchestermiracle - Dec 27, 2012 at 12:14 AM

    Sounds like Detroit is run about as well as the NHL. The only way either can avoid losing money is to keep the doors shuttered.

  24. truwarier90 - Dec 27, 2012 at 3:24 AM

    cant wait to see young teams like hawks and blues take over the division and run the chicken wings into the division basement. chicken wings aint winning another ring until they employ a legit enforcer, and 40-year-old broke down bertuzzi doesn’t count.

  25. bbk1000 - Dec 27, 2012 at 6:16 AM

    Who is the old broad in the picture?

  26. xjokerz - Dec 27, 2012 at 8:12 AM

    ” that 5 dollar pizza has been a grace “. Dude, that pizza is trash. Hot and ready are the bottom of the barrel pizza. And in all honesty it saved little ceasers from going out of business considering there pizza is absolutely trash to begin with. Oh and up at Cmu where I go to school it’s 6.99. Not 5 dollars. That’s little ceasers for you

  27. dannythebisforbeast - Dec 27, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    It must be he holidays…I am 100% in agreement with Blomfeld. My 8yr old daughter on Xmas was like whats the North Pole in China , everything’s made there.

  28. ron05342 - Dec 27, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    Just move them to Los Angeles, strip the “red” from the team name, and I guarantee you a Kings vs. Wings inter-city rivalry will dwarf any Lakers / Clippers rivalry. :)

  29. timmons94 - Dec 27, 2012 at 9:50 PM

    move the Red Wings to Auburn Hills…the palace is amazing building, the JOE is a dump….Hate this bs that teams NEED TO BE DOWNTOWN….who wants to go to downtown detroit ???? Building a new downtown arena won’t help the Pistons attendance or increase the Wings- they almost sell out every night anyways

  30. mountainmantride - Dec 27, 2012 at 11:58 PM

    Well now, isn’t that just a photograph of an complete idiot. Ilitch looks like a deer-in-the-headlights in that shot. “What, I owe $70 mill to who?” Whaaaahat? This group of owners, and players, just looks and sounds like a bunch of bumbling f**king idots. The joke just keeps getting better. Hell, I’m darn near close to turning of Comedy Channel just to read all these here blogs about what dumb f**ks hockey fans are. Too funny. Keep it up and I’ll cancel cable.

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