Red Wings owner targeted in John Oliver segment

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DETROIT, Mich. – The new Detroit Red Wings arena is still a couple of years away, but one late night talk show host pointed out some flaws in a rant over the weekend.

On Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight on HBO, John Oliver took on the issue of sports teams receiving public funding for new arenas and stadiums.  As one point of contention, he referred to the Detroit Red Wings receiving $280 million in taxpayer funds six days after the city filed for bankruptcy two years ago.

“Even though the owner of the Red Wings is Mike Ilitch, the founder of the Little Caesar’s Pizza chain,” he said, noting Ilitch’s empire is worth about $5.1 billion. “It’s hard to swallow. Sure, not as hard to swallow as Little Caesars Crazy Bread, with an assortment of Caesar dips. But still pretty hard.”

Red Wings quote from John Oliver

Detroit’s new arena is expected to open in the summer of 2017.  The expectations are for the arena to bring more business downtown.

“Sports teams are successful businesses with wealthy owners and yet they still get our help,” he said.

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    • Jeff

      Detroit is bankrupt because its been run entirely by Democrats for 60 plus years. Its schools are failing because its full of poor people who don’t pay taxes, and a mass exodus driven by poor government choices over the last 60 years.
      The only thing that will save detroit is in state tourism and taxes, which a new stadium, parking and smart investing will do. Now they just need to name it Hockey Town Arena, or make illitch pay an insane naming rights tax to keep up little ceaser name.

      • Chris Sprague

        Olympia Development of Michigan, the real estate arm of Wings owners Mike and Marian Ilitch’s business holdings.

        How much will the arena cost?

        The initial base price is $450 million. Problems, changes and added amenities could increase that final cost. Anything beyond $450 million must be paid by the Ilitches. The ancillary development — bars, restaurants, stores, apartments, townhomes — is at least $200 million, and will be privately financed by the Ilitches and their third-party business partners. The Ilitches are obligated to pay any arena costs beyond the $450 million. Their business empire, which includes the Little Caesars pizza chain, had $3.1 billion in 2013 revenue.

        How is the arena’s construction being financed?The Michigan Strategic Fund will sell $450 million in two series of bonds. They will be divided into $250 million in Series A bonds that will be backed by property taxes already captured by the Downtown Development Authority. The $200 million in Series B bonds will be backed by the $11.5 million Olympia Development has agreed to pay the DDA for bond retirement.

        Who will pay off the bonds?

        The Ilitches, through Olympia Development of Michigan, the real estate arm of Wings owners Mike and Marian Ilitch’s business holdings will pay $200 million of the bond debt. Detroit’s DDA, via its property tax capture ability, will pay back $250 million of the bonds.

        Illihes Olympia already is a top 10 taxpayer in Detroit.

        These are the top 10 property taxpayers in Detroit’s Downtown Development Authority’s tax increment finance district. The numbers are total taxable value of their properties within the district.

        • Riverfront Holdings Inc.: (General Motors Co. subsidiary): $128.7 million

        • General Motors LLC: $46.3 million

        • 500 Woodward LLC: $31.5 million

        • Piedmont Operating Partnership: $18.9 million

        • Olympia (various entities): $15.5 million

        • Greektown Casino LLC: $13.1 million

        • Quicken Loans: $11.7 million

        • Kennedy Square LLC: $11.4 million

        • Comerica Bank: $11.2 million

        • 211 Fort Washington Associates: $10 million

        Source: DDA

        As far as being taxed for naming rights I think Illiches already signing a contract for the naming rights as part of a 20-year, $125 million deal allows them to name it whatever they want as there long term investment will be well over what the taxpayers portion will be along with the economic growth to the area.

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