Chris Ilitch says progress being made on new arena

The Detroit Red Wings will get a new arena.

It’s not if, but when and yet Chris Ilitch doesn’t know or want

to say much about it.

”Everybody is working hard and there’s positive progress,” the

president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings told The Associated Press

after Wednesday’s Detroit Economic Club meeting.

What’s next in the process?

”It’s tough to say,” he said. ”I’d prefer not to make any

predictions and just keep working away and continue to do our due

diligence and see what we can put together.”

Joe Louis Arena, which is among the oldest NHL facilities,

opened in 1979.

Chris Ilitch leads a company owned by his parents – Mike and

Marian – that includes the Red Wings, Detroit Tigers and had $4.2

billion in revenue in 2010.

Four months ago, Michigan lawmakers approved a measure allowing

tax dollars collected by the Downtown Development Authority to be

used for a $650 million multi-use development that will include a

facility for the Red Wings. The DDA has been allowed for nearly two

decades to pay down Detroit’s general obligation bonds with about

$12.8 million a year that otherwise would have gone to

education

Supporters of the bill claimed it will create upward of 8,300

new construction jobs and pump $1 billion into Michigan’s economy.

Opponents of it said funding a private stadium with taxpayer

dollars shouldn’t be a priority, especially when that money was

otherwise going to the School Aid Fund.

But for Detroit which is under state financial oversight, such a

complex is seen as a godsend.

”I think this is a great opportunity, as we continue the

process of transforming Detroit,” Mayor Dave Bing said Wednesday

in an emailed statement. ”This sports complex will not only create

thousands of jobs, hopefully for Detroiters, but will also be a

major economic benefit to our city.”

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