Skip to content

Red Wings unveil plans for new arena, look to open in 2017

Jul 20, 2014, 12:10 PM EDT


The Detroit Red Wings are looking forward to moving out of Joe Louis Arena and into a new downtown arena. Today, they offered up their renderings and plans for what they have in mind and what they’re hoping they can do for downtown Detroit.

As you can see from the image to the right, it’s not just a new arena they have planned but a full downtown makeover. As Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch said in the press release, he wants reinvigorate the city.

“It’s always been my dream to see a vibrant and energized downtown Detroit,” said Ilitch. “I want people to look at Detroit’s new sports and entertainment district and see what I see: the potential for something very special. I couldn’t be more excited and proud to bring this vision to life.”

Ilitch wants to create a downtown sector with the arena as the focus but also to include restaurants, entertainment venues, and residential space as well with a target date  to open the arena by summer 2017. Joe Louis Arena has been open since December 1979.

One of the sticking points for many regarding the new facility is the use of public money to make it happen. The latest plans by Ilitch and his company include tens of millions of his money for public infrastructure including lighting, sidewalk, green space, and streets.

They’re also bringing in at least $200 million in private investment to turn run-down blocks into areas for people to live and work and to build up the area around Comerica Park and Ford Field downtown.

It’s a bold project and with a 2017 target date it means construction will have to begin soon. Their hopes are to break ground this fall.

  1. bf53 - Jul 20, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    A new arena for Dan Cleary to suck in.

    Because you all know he’ll still be there.

    • polegojim - Jul 20, 2014 at 6:10 PM

      Awesome and will bring billions to the Detroit economy for years to come.

      Red Wings revs to city of course, but also all the related revenue for construction/employment, Real Estate purchases, retail, vending, real estate rentals, as well as small and large businesses alike.

      KUDOS to Ilitch Family and Red Wings FO!!

  2. blackheart78 - Jul 20, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    Used to live in Michigan around Detroit and I think it would be really cool if they built a ROBOCOP statue in front of the new arena. Kinda like what Philadelphia did with the Rocky statue outside of the Spectrum. Make it happen!!!

    • adamal17 - Jul 20, 2014 at 12:40 PM

      There already is a Robocop statue in downtown Detroit. It’s not a permanent staple in any particular spot and get’s moved around. It’s a humongous bronze statue…looks kinda cool actually.

      • justanotherphillyfan - Jul 20, 2014 at 4:37 PM

        Youth memories….

        I think I played that movie so many times when I was young that my VCR could play the entire movie without the tape inside it haha.

    • Hard to BeLeaf - Jul 20, 2014 at 2:16 PM

      From the stories I keep hearing about Detroit, they need a fully functional Robocop.

  3. rushledger - Jul 20, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    Detroit needs this so good for them.

  4. the8man - Jul 20, 2014 at 12:49 PM

    All that money for a new stadium with the city in such financial distress?

    “Think it over, creep!”

    • adamal17 - Jul 20, 2014 at 1:14 PM

      Yes because the term “you have to spend money to make money” has always been incorrect…The city of Pittsburgh hasn’t flourished since they build a new arena or anything. Oh wait…that’s right; they have.

    • cheliostwin - Jul 20, 2014 at 4:28 PM

      Building the new arena won’t take any money at all from the city’s budget. Most of the money will come from private investors, and a large chunk will be paid with money raised from bonds. The bonds will be paid back with what is known as incremental taxes. The city currently collects property taxes on that area; with the new development the property values will increase, so the property taxes will go up dramatically. The city will continue to collect the current amount of taxes, the additional tax income will be used to pay back the bonds over the next 20 years. So no money will come out of the city’s pockets for this development. In fact, the city should get slightly more income, as the rest of downtown will get more traffic, restaurants and bars will get more business, and their tax payments to the city will increase.

      • dan28354 - Jul 21, 2014 at 2:53 AM

        The public will pay nearly 60 percent of the cost of the proposed $450 million Detroit Red Wings arena in downtown Detroit.

        Property taxes would pay for $261.5 million (58 percent) of the building’s construction cost while the team’s ownership would provide $188.4 million (42 percent), according to details provided by the state.

        Is this really a good deal for the citizenry to pay for millionaire to play

    • chelbelle64 - Jul 21, 2014 at 12:05 AM

      This will help the city. This is also private money not public.

  5. adamal17 - Jul 20, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    I liked the initial rendering…but knew it would have never made the cut.

    But there isn’t another team out there that deserves a new arena more than the Wings do. This team and Ilitch Holdings have done so much for the downtown area and it will finally come to fruition with this. Walking the concourse of JLA fifteen times a year is more of a pain than signing Cleary…but not by much. The area’s that they’re going to eliminate with this will also make the downtown area more of an attraction as well. I don’t think we’ll ever have the appeal of New York or Chicago…but at least it will push the crime outside of the busiest areas; ironically to the area around where JLA stands now. Now they just need to take the annual profits the city of Detroit get’s from this (and they’re going to be high) to re vamp the river walk and the east side past Wayne State University!

    • j0hnnyscene - Jul 20, 2014 at 11:33 PM

      The river walk’s already been revamped. It’s gorgeous.

  6. mustbechris - Jul 20, 2014 at 1:02 PM

    “It’s always been my dream to see a vibrant and energized downtown Detroit, using taxpayer money to do so while taxpayers are having their water shut off all across this same city.”

    I fixed it

    • adamal17 - Jul 20, 2014 at 1:11 PM

      you’re an idiot. Find me one arena of the major sports in the entire US that hasn’t been backed by taxpayer money. You can’t. The reason taxpayer money is used is so that the city can reap the benefits of the success of the arena, team and every revenue created from it. So leave JLA where it is and the Wings will give the city of Detroit 1 million dollars a year or build a new arena that will bring more jobs, money and growth to the city and have the city be guaranteed to make 20 million a year BEFORE any revenue, jobs and tourism is created from a single game. If the Ilitches wanted to build their own arena they’d only have to give the city the tax money for the property the building sits on and not share anything from parking, tickets or memorabilia…while with this deal the city get’s at least 20% i believe of all that. But you’d learn any of this is a middle school econ class. I guess you must have missed that day.

      • alliceishome - Jul 20, 2014 at 1:27 PM

        “Find me one arena of the major sports in the entire US that hasn’t been backed by taxpayer money while that city cannot afford to supply water to its population. You can’t.”

        Fixed that for you

      • lakeshoreleafsfan - Jul 20, 2014 at 1:32 PM

        Nobody is gong to deny that taxpayers money is used for arenas and stadiums etc. What the problem is asking taxpayers to pay part of the funds (if not all of them) for a new arena and/or stadium while the city is officially and legally bankrupt. Almost half of the streetlights don’t work and water has been shut off because of unpaid bills etc. That’s a lot of nerve, audacity and gall to ask your citizens to pay for something, that is not essential 9at least not under the current conditions) that a millionaire has the money to pay for themselves. if they don’t, then the millionaire can go looking for corporate donations. With Detroit being bankrupt, and while their under bankruptcy, a new stadium (with the help from taxpayers’) should be the last thing on their minds

      • adamal17 - Jul 20, 2014 at 1:41 PM

        mustbechris and alliceishome…DDA funds have nothing to do with every day operations of any city. maybe you should do more than one google search.

      • alansmithee888 - Jul 20, 2014 at 1:44 PM

        Here’s some reading material. Warning: it’s above middle school reading level:

        And this is Miami, not “symbol of American urban blight” Detroit. How much further down the tubes can Detroit go before the poor and impoverished in the area start making their way into Windsor for a better way of life?

      • goat10000 - Jul 20, 2014 at 6:37 PM

        AT&T Park, San Francisco. You could look it up.

      • Ron Burgundy - Jul 20, 2014 at 6:41 PM

        Alliceishome – A common symptom of not paying a utility bill is having said utility shut off. Which is what is happening en masse in Detroit right now after EXTREMELY long grace periods given to the people whose water is being shut off.

        The part I find hilarious is that people are protesting now. Cool man. I’m not going to pay my electric bill for a year or so, and when they come to shut it off, I’m going to organize a protest. Because clearly its the electric company’s fault that I couldn’t pay my bill.

        All that being said, I hope this goes through. Could be a real boon to the city and it’s people. Good on the Ilitch family for not giving up on Detroit.

      • 101starmymedic - Jul 20, 2014 at 9:27 PM

        And a whales vagina…

      • mustbechris - Jul 20, 2014 at 10:35 PM

        Those are some mighty strong internet muscles you got, eh? Calling someone you don’t know an idiot? Your parents must be proud.

    • jaybaileys - Jul 20, 2014 at 9:41 PM

      Didn’t the Flyers build their new building with their own money?

      • mustbechris - Jul 20, 2014 at 10:33 PM

        Yes, they did.

      • jaybaileys - Jul 21, 2014 at 4:49 PM

        and there goes the dynamite!

  7. blackhawks2010 - Jul 20, 2014 at 1:15 PM

    That’s pretty cool, hope it happens for Detroit.

  8. enollatsknarf - Jul 20, 2014 at 1:17 PM

    Great deal Michigan/Detroit. You sold the land to little caesers pizza for a $1. The city will not collect property taxes on the arena. The little caeser’s billionaire is under no obligation to hire local Detroiters.

    This will revitalize Detroit….the city council and the smart business men with suits said so… it must be true. When have they ever steered Detroit wrong?

    Who needs public works when you could have a new fuddruckers and some overpriced condos downtown?

    • adamal17 - Jul 20, 2014 at 1:29 PM

      The city won’t collect the estimated 1.3 million dollars in taxes due to the agreement to pay back the bonds issued to build the arena (over 300 million total) and giving the city a good chunk of all revenues (at least 20%).
      No obligation to hire local detroiters to BUILD the arena…In other words this is not a union contract build…so it saves millions of dollars.
      Leaving JLA where it is makes the city 1 million dollars a year. The city will own this arena and gain revenues from concerts, college games and many other events at the arena.
      When has the Ilitch family ever steered Detroit wrong? So what if they’re trying to be a bit secretive to ensure their sole investment of over 270 million dollars is kept safe. When you can put up that kind of money then you can talk.
      This family started with one pizza oven and one store in Metro Detroit…now they own two very successful sports franchises and are helping to re grow a beat down city…yea; they’re the bad guys. Go suck on your Kwame Kilpatrick picture, tool.

      • alansmithee888 - Jul 20, 2014 at 1:46 PM

        “Go suck on your Kwame Kilpatrick picture, tool.”

        Oh, please tell me you’re one of those people who goeson political websites and complains about people on public assistance owning smartphones, iPads, Playstations, etc. Because the hypocrisy would be hilarious.

        Detroit can’t pay their bills? Let’s build them a new hockey arena!
        Detroit families can’t pay their bills? Stop sucking on the government’s teat, freeloader!

      • adamal17 - Jul 20, 2014 at 3:51 PM

        No, i’m not. Rather than blame the people that live in the city for what they’re going through (even the people who are on food stamps and everything of the sort are on them for one reason or another; what they spend the money on is their business) blame the person that put them there. One corrupt person that owes the city tens of millions of dollars that put the city in so much of a hole from the awful decisions made that it will take decades to dig out. Yes; the people put him in office but no one could have seen all of the awful things that he did and got away with for eight years.

      • enollatsknarf - Jul 20, 2014 at 7:20 PM

        These are lucrative tax breaks for a multibillionaire’s dollar corporation.

        Once we get to this part however…

        “So what if they’re trying to be a bit secretive to ensure their sole investment of over 270 million dollars is kept safe. When you can put up that kind of money then you can talk.”

        I have to just stop trying, because you can’t have a reasonable debate with someone this illogical. I mean, seriously read that quote out loud to yourself.

        The worst part is that the Ilitch’s already fleeced Detroit for a baseball stadium.

  9. takingbovadasmoney - Jul 20, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    DDA funds being used are not tax dollars from citizens, nor does it come from the city/state budgets(at least not yet). DDA is an entity separate from any government entity, designed to assist the growth of the established business district. As such the DDA is only allowed to spend money within the established district on certain approved
    projects. DDA money comes from the businesses, not waterless citizens, within the DDA boundaries.

  10. edgewaterjoe - Jul 20, 2014 at 1:47 PM

    So apparently the only way the city will get water is if they freeze it into a hockey rink?

    Stupid. Vile. So Detroit.

  11. edgewaterjoe - Jul 20, 2014 at 1:50 PM

    Detroit: where the only way to get water is to freeze it into a hockey rink.

  12. dutchman1350 - Jul 20, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    Buying the land cheap and trying to rebuild Detroit. Good for them. In a few years the investors will be called greedy for having all the tax abatements.

  13. LampyB - Jul 20, 2014 at 2:03 PM

    Grow up, your comments are like a 15 yr old in his first polysci class.

    Illitch has spent his life building and renovating detroit. Anyone here that says the illitch family are a bunch of money hungry people out to screw detroit haven’t a clue. Just shut your mouth, you do not know what you’re talking about. That man has done more for the city than any other.

    • elrock7 - Jul 20, 2014 at 3:23 PM

      I agree, they have created many pizza delivery jobs.

  14. hosewater2 - Jul 20, 2014 at 2:06 PM

    Complex issues here:

    • enollatsknarf - Jul 20, 2014 at 7:24 PM

      Everyone here seems in favor of welfare when it’s applied to billionaires …

  15. chiadam - Jul 20, 2014 at 2:56 PM

    The rendering looks awesome. I especially dig the roof. And while I hate the Wings, I don’t hate the city of Detroit or its residents. Hopefully, this works.

    • bensawesomeness - Jul 21, 2014 at 2:56 AM

      I think the roof may be my favorite part. I don’t know if it’ll stay, like if it’s just there for the rendering or not, but if it does, that’d be amazing to see

  16. corky2141 - Jul 20, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    Went out to Detroit last summer for a baseball game and loved the set up they had for comerica & ford field and the immediate surrounding area. But it seemed to be a small area and talking to people from there they said they would love for the red wings to help build it up more with a new stadium. Also, chelios’ bar sits right next to the main gate entering the baseball stadium and hockeytown pub was next to fox theatre and comerica’s parking lots

  17. leaf1956 - Jul 20, 2014 at 4:49 PM

    That definitely is contributing to the community where you earn a living

  18. pwshrugged - Jul 20, 2014 at 6:04 PM

    Like most things, there are pros and cons to this situation.

    On the pro side, the Red Wings do need some change to their playing venue, although I would have favored a renovation of the Joe, but I’m an old-school stadium enthusiast who mourns Tiger Stadium anytime he goes to Comerica Park. The plan proposed is grand and could have a very positive effect on Detroit as a whole. What the Ilitch family imagines is quite bold and daring. If you don’t know the city very well, the area they’re using is an integral part of downtown that is currently unused. It’s a stellar opportunity that, if done right, will be a huge boon to the area and the city. It should be noted that the proposed arena is not being pitched as a hockey-only venue; it’s meant to be a multi-purpose venue for year-round use.

    On the con side, as with any stadium deal nowadays, there’s hand-wringing about the taxpayer money. I don’t have answers there, although I don’t feel this is any more egregious than any other stadium deal. Mike Ilitch is no Jeffrey Loria, for example. You can argue that the bankruptcy changes the picture, but how is the city to regrow without investment? As studies have pointed out, having a huge state-of-the-art stadium does little for individual denizens of a city, and that generally speaking, the only people getting rich off of it are the investors… but having a vibrant stadium district can create jobs and drive tourism. Where’s the money coming from? I don’t know. Some of it is fancy legal bond/tax structure stuff that basically just spreads the cost out over a term of years. Some of it may be coming at the expense of public works. I don’t know, but it’s easy enough to see taxpayer money as a pool – when you siphon some off to go one place, it doesn’t go to another. That’s unfortunate.

    Truth be told, though, if any individual or organization asked for a sum of millions of taxpayer dollars and spoke with intent of making Detroit better, the Ilitch family is one group I’d trust with that. They’ve failed before, with Comerica Park never quite being the “Wrigleyville” they envisioned, but I’d give them another shot. The Ilitch family has stuck by Detroit from beginning to now; while yes, they are investors who will be poised to profit from this (as investors should when they do well), they’ve always tried to do right by the city. They could have left for greener pastures when things went bad, but they didn’t; they’ve doubled-down on Detroit, and for that, I give them the benefit of the doubt.

    Oh, and to everyone correlating this to some Detroit citizens having their water turned off, they’re completely separate issues. The reason people are having their water turned off is because they don’t pay their bill. Public works, such as water, are a service that require payment. What’s most stunning about that situation is that it didn’t happen sooner; a major part of the water works financial woes stem from servicing delinquent accounts.

    • Ron Burgundy - Jul 20, 2014 at 6:30 PM

      I wish I could upvote that more than once.

    • hosewater2 - Jul 20, 2014 at 7:46 PM

      So if the Ilitch family is trying to do the right thing here, let the City of Detroit get direct financial benefit from the increased valuation of the Red Wings franchise which would inevitably result. The controversy stems from the fact that these kinds of public investments are vastly overrated in terms of economic benefit to the community, as you note, and Deadspin noted today in their piece. The true benefactors are the franchise owners who see huge increases in their franchise values, IMO if there is public investment then the public needs to have direct benefit as well, not just some imaginary halo effect.

      On a side note, I wonder how Seattle Supersonics fans feel about this situation?

      • kaptaanamerica - Jul 21, 2014 at 12:02 AM

        I’d be interested to know if the valuation of the property being sold for 1$ will change after some time to allow property taxation to reap some benefit to the city, or is the “20% of revenues” meant to cover any property tax that would have resulted from an increase in property value from the development.

        Also, will the city be able to negotiate an equity stake in the franchise to take advantage of the increase in franchise value like Hosewater suggests?

      • pwshrugged - Jul 21, 2014 at 11:21 AM

        The whole stadium-building thing has become a pretty major scandal in America, in my opinion – I don’t understand why public financing ends up bankrolling the majority, when the public rarely sees a return. Most public returns are indirect from having a potentially thriving entertainment district – the stadium itself creates jobs, and there’s a jobs benefit to bars, restaurants, hotels, etc. Property values can see a minor surge, as well, although that’s not super likely. Having pro sports teams and major entertainment venues is a staple of major American cities now, after all. I agree completely, though, that the system is basically broken and takes advantage of public funding. This is something I hope to see correct itself over the next couple decades.

        One thing to consider is the complete lose-lose situation this is for Detroit as a city. If they use the bankruptcy to refuse a needed stadium upgrade (personally, I’d favor a renovation of the Joe, but it is an old building and is attracting less and less non-hockey entertainment), then it looks bad – they’re not being favorable to the best team in the city, and the image of poor, dilapidated Detroit persists. If they allow the stadium to be built, they suffer the national ire in terms of “how can you build a stadium when you’re bankrupt,” but the new stadium offers more opportunity than not building it – a potentially refreshed entertainment district, potential jobs, potential long-term improvement.

        As for the city itself, property valuations are a pretty nuanced thing right now. If no one’s buying, there’s no reason not to sell it off cheap if someone’s going to use it. There were stories as far out as five years ago about people buying houses in Detroit for $10,000 or less. The city needs to attract people – be they residential or commercial – to get out of the hole it’s in. If that means some land goes to sale cheap, so be it. The only thing I offer there is that the city needs to be picky about who they make cheap sales to.

        On that note, I maintain my faith in the Ilitch family. I’m not going to pretend that they’re moral bastions of hope and praise; they’re investors, and as investors, their primary interest is – and should be – making a profit. I hope they do, although that’s most likely a given with how pro sports ownership works now. That said, I’d rather give buckets of public money to an upstanding local ambassador like Mike Ilitch in Detroit. Say what you want about the nature of public funding in sports, Mike Ilitch has been one of the best owners across pro sports. Better to give him money than Zygi Wilf, who recently got public funding for a new Vikings stadium despite basically being convicted of racketeering to skim money from business partners (as an example). I doubt Zygi Wilf cares a whit for Minneapolis; at least we know, from past experience, that Mike Ilitch bleeds Detroit blood. My greatest concern with the Ilitch family is that I hope he’s instilled that same loyalty and respect into his children, who will take over his empire someday.

  19. mfinneran - Jul 20, 2014 at 7:55 PM

    Go to the former mayor and his cronie’s. I’ll bet they could
    come up with a few buck’s.

  20. hieronymous27 - Jul 20, 2014 at 8:05 PM

    In 1950 the population within the City of Detroit was 1.86 million people. It was the fourth largest city in the country. Today the population within Detroit proper is roughly 700,000 people. For the past 60 years Detroit has been in steady decline. Now you have someone who has invested in the city and people are complaining how rich he is going to get. Where were all the people with deep pockets, former Detroiters, when things were going down the toilet? They all cut ties with Motown and moved to the burbs. The fact of the matter is the city needs private investors in the worst way. If people like Illitch and Dan Gilbert are willing to invest in the city I say God love them. At least they’re willing to put their money where their mouth at a time when no one else has the testicular fortitude to step up.

  21. 101starmymedic - Jul 20, 2014 at 9:29 PM

    They should rename Detroit, MI to Illitch, MI because that family has done so much through charity, city donations, jobs, and citywide revenue.

  22. timmons94 - Jul 20, 2014 at 9:51 PM

    Palace of auburn hills best arena in country . Paid with not one cent public cash. But no , the red wings have ti be in downtown Detroit…

    • tmoore4075 - Jul 21, 2014 at 8:57 AM

      Best arena in the country? It’s a very nice arena but it’s 25 years old so I’m guessing there are plenty of arenas nicer. I have been to the ACC and Nationwide and thought those were better because they have two concourses so you can spread out the people to not have them all going to the same place for food and drinks.

      So there was been exodus from Detroit over the last 50-60 years so you want the Wings to do the same? That’ll be good for the city.

  23. tmoore4075 - Jul 21, 2014 at 9:02 AM

    This looks great, I hope it works out the way they are planning. Wings need a new arena and they weren’t going to renovcate Joe Louis. Can’t add in more private boxes in the lower levels, which is one of it’s biggest downfalls. Also can’t add in a second concourse and two more exits, which is also what it needs. As someone mentioned above the area where this is being built is very nice but it needs to spread out from there. There aren’t enough places in Detroit like this. Hopefully it can continue to spread.

  24. lionstigersandwingsohmy - Jul 21, 2014 at 2:31 PM

    One thing that never gets mentioned in this debate is the fate of JLA. After the new stadium is built, the city of Detroit will be able to tear down JLA and build whatever they want. The JLA site will be a prime riverfront location. The taxes the city gets from the re-development of the JLA site will be far greater than the 22 blocks where the new stadium is going is producing now. I argue that the end result will be an increase in tax revenue to the city.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kane (2128)
  2. P. Kessel (1318)
  3. M. Richards (1291)
  4. N. Backstrom (1193)
  5. M. Giordano (1020)