The Detroit Red Wings are one step closer to a new stadium. Maybe.
The Michigan Senate has approved legislation that will help finance a new home for the NHL team. Besides an events center for the Red Wings, the $650 million Illitch family project will finance several downtown developments.
The Red Wings have been playing at the Joe Louis Arena since 1979. The aging arena is in major need of a makeover.
Funding for the project would come from Detroit’s Downtown Development Authority tax dollars, which displeases many.
Michigan State Senator Gretchen Whitmer (D) says the project will deplete funds for the city’s public schools. This is a direct subsidy by school kids to allow a billionaire to build a hockey arena,” ESPN reports her as saying.
On the other hand, State Senate Major Leader Randy Richardville believes this will provide a major economic boom for Detroit and Michigan, not just with a tourist draw but also in creating 8,300 construction jobs.
While the bill was approved 27-11, the project isn’t 100% set. The bill has been sent to the House and is expected to receive criticism. As of yesterday, House Democrats are already threatening to overturn legislation. The bill is a hard sell with Democrats. Even though Republicans control a majority of the House’s seats, many conservatives also oppose the plan.
As reported by Detroit News, the bill’s sponsor and House Speaker Pro Tem John Walsh said, “we have some people who simply believe that no public money should be used for any private sector project.”
The Detroit Red Wings might be staying at the Joe Louis Arena for a bit longer.