Detroit conjures a dream with groundbreaking of $650mn new hockey arena



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Detroit Hockey Arena

Hockey fans in Detroit will be enthused by a new arena in two years time. The $650-million arena in Woodward Avenue, just north of downtown, will host the Detroit Red Wings, currently based out of Joe Louis Arena, which was opened in 1979.

On September 25, Detroit held a groundbreaking for the 18,000-seat hockey arena with an adjoining 45-block entertainment complex which will complete the new district.

A $450 million bond financing plan was approved last week for the arena and entertainment district. Olympia Development is committed to investing another $200 million in new residential, retail and office space in the district. The company is owned by Red Wings’ owners Mike and Marian Ilitch.

The arena is scheduled for a 2017 opening.

Detroit Governor Rick Snyder, Mayor Mike Duggan, City Council President Pro Tem George Cushingberry and Olympia Entertainment CEO Chris Ilitch (son of Mike and Marian Ilitch) attended the groundbreaking celebrations, which included a concert and entertainment games. Fans also got the opportunity to skate on the official Red Wings synthetic ice rink, which was temporarily installed at the site of the new arena.

“This is our one shot, our one opportunity to build a world-class sports and entertainment district, one that rivals anything in the country,” said Chris Ilitch.

Duggan added: “We are going to make sure the opportunities for Detroiters from this project last long after the construction is over.”

It is said that the idea for the new district came to the Ilitches 12 years ago during a Red Wings road game in San Jose, California. They were left astounded by the then new $450m-million Santana Row, a walkable ‘village within a city’ full of trendy bars, eateries, upscale shops and high-end residences.

Santana Row made such a deep impression on the Detroit entrepreneurial family that the Ilitches quickly contacted one of the key designers of the 42-acre San Jose project, Richard Heapes. For years now, Heapes has been working with the Ilitches on their massive plan to redefine downtown Detroit.

With the groundbreaking ceremony for the new district, the Ilitches’ long-anticipated urban vision takes a step closer to becoming reality.

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