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Deal for new Red Wings arena moves forward; state could pay for Joe Louis demolition


The Detroit Red Wings are a step closer to getting a new home.

Detroit’s Downtown Development Authority approved a concession management agreement that provides the framework for a new $450 million sports and entertainment arena Friday.

The project will radically transform a 45-square block area that connects Detroit’s downtown and Midtown areas. Economic development officials say it will help the city create a world-class entertainment district.

The plan is controversial, though. It will be financed in part by tax revenues, even though Detroit is bankrupt.

But Detroit Economic Growth Corporation President George Jackson says it’s a good deal for the city.

“I think the key thing here is we were very careful in terms of not adding to the debt of the city through its general fund, which a lot of cities do when they build an arena,” Jackson says.

The project also includes $200 million in as-yet-unspecified private, “mixed-use” development.

That lack of detail worries some neighborhood residents, who say the community’s voice needs to be heard in this process.

“What’s going to happen across the street from where the arena is built? How is the rest of the area going to be developed?” asks Francis Grunow, with the neighborhood group Corridors Alliance. “These are things we want to know. There needs to be transparency in this process.”

The agreement also contains a provision for the state to pay to for the Red Wing’s current home, Joe Louis Arena. But officials say that’s just a “verbal agreement” for now.

The deal isn’t final yet. The Detroit City Council needs to approve property transfers, and the expansion of the Downtown Development Authority.

A vote is expected next week.  

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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