Council Member Mary Sheffield: Pistons Vote “Probably the Hardest Vote I Have Taken”

Kevin Moore/WDET

When it comes to big projects involving development downtown, it seems like nothing comes easy in the city of Detroit. Then again, should anything come easy when you’re dealing with millions of dollars and hundreds-of-thousands of lives?

The Pistons recent decision to move Downtown into Little Caesars Arena next season has been met with both excitement and fierce resistance. The City Council recently approved $34.5 million in bonds to support the move through Detroit’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA).

Council Member Mary Sheffield, representing District 5 in Detroit, voted in favor of the measure. But she’s faced some serious backlash since that vote. Critics say voters should be able to decide what that money is used for. And they say taxpayers shouldn’t be subsidizing billionaires like Tom Gores who want to move their teams to shiney new arenas. Sheffield released a three-page statement yesterday about those concerns and why she will not reconsider her vote. 

Sheffield joins Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today to explain her vote. She says that a number of the concerns she has received are based on misinformation. 

I definitely understand the sentiments around… we are struggling in our neighborhood, we are struggling outside of Downtown and Midtown,” Sheffield says. 

Sheffield also addresses the pattern of taxpayer support for things like sports arenas and casinos and the land used to build those projects.

I would like to believe that there has been job creation because of the sports facilities Downtown,” Sheffield says. “I would like to believe that there has been an increase in the property values within the area that has probably spread beyond the area. ”

Sheffield talks about how the Pistons moving to Detroit will increase the city’s tax base. 

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation. 

Image credit: WDET

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Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.  

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