Detroit City Council OKs land transfer deal for new arena

By Halston Herrera - Digital news editor

DETROIT - The Detroit City Council on Tuesday approved a land transfer deal that paves the way for a new $640 million Red Wings arena and entertainment center north of the city's downtown.

The vote was 6-3.

City Council President Brenda Jones, Councilman James Tate and Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda-Lopez were the members that voted no.

Olympia Entertainment President and CEO Tom Wilson spoke before the vote, telling the council the project would turn the area into the "epicenter" of entertainment in Detroit -- bringing 400 to 500 events every year to the area. More events, Wilson explained, means more money.

--Tom Wilson

Sean Harrington, who owns nearby businesses the Town Pump Tavern, Centaur bar and Hot Taco, said he's also raising his family in the area and is tired seeing "crack houses" and other degenerative activities happening in the currently vacant area.

"I feel that by building this property up,  we will actually have an opportunity to have a better neighborhood," Harrington said.

But Tate and Jones both expressed concerns about what jobs would be left post-construction.

"Do I still say that we need a guarantee of jobs for Detroiters once this stadium is built? Yes. I've maintained that throughout and I still maintain that, and I'm not going to change my mind on that," Jones said.

The council has already approved a tax financing plan and expanded boundaries of the Downtown Development Authority District where the project would be constructed.

The 18,000-seat arena would become the new home for the NHL team, which now plays at aging Joe Louis Arena.

The DDA would own the arena and event center complex. Olympia Development would have exclusive rights to use, manage and operate it, and hold naming rights.

The llitch family owns Olympia Development and the Red Wings.

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