In the same week that Detroit announced its bankruptcy, the State of Michigan unanimously approved plans to build the Detroit Red Wings a new arena, near to Detroit's other sports complexes. The problem: the $450 million dollar bond will receive $284 million initial dollars from the taxpayers. "Including interest, it's projected that there will be a total of $444 million in taxpayer funds spent on the project." (1)
This venture projects an optimistic $1 billion in direct spending in Detroit over the next 30 years, but economists, with more than 40 years of research, "almost uniformly agree that publicly financed stadiums rarely pay for themselves." (2) Detroit has built other stadiums on those same hopes, without the promised return on investment. This is the wrong public investment for the City of Detroit right now.
"Detroit city services are already stretched extremely thin. On average, police take about an hour to respond to calls for help, and 40% of street lights are shut off to save money.
'If you want people to live in the city, and not just visit to go to games, you have to invest in schools, in having the police to respond to calls,' said Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic leader in the state senate. 'There are so many investments that should trump a sports stadium.'" (1)
Mike Ilitch has a personal worth of $2.7 billion. He does not need the State of Michigan taxpayer's money to create this new home for the beloved Detroit Red Wings. Go ahead and build the arena if you must, but do it without state funding.
"University of Chicago economist Allan Sanderson put it best, a couple of years ago: 'If you want to inject money into the local economy, it would be better to drop it from a helicopter than invest it into a new ballpark.'" (3)