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

Dec 26, 2012, 10:25 AM EST

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.

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