The owners of Detroit’s latest downtown attraction say the new arena will usher in a new era of prosperity in the city.
Officials cut the ribbon on the Little Caesars Arena this week, the new home for the Detroit Red Wings and Pistons sports teams.
The CEO of the Red Wings ownership, Christopher Ilitch, says the state-of-the-art facility will draw both people and development to the city.
He says that’s just what his late father, Little Caesars pizza chain founder Mike Ilitch, hoped it would do.
“While my father is no longer with us, he was so excited about this vision and all of these plans,” Ilitch says. “He loved to win. And the vibrant Detroit we’re now realizing was the win he wanted most for the community he loved.”
Experts say the almost $900 million venue is as impressive a facility as any in sports.
It offers state-of-the-art amenities for fans as well as offices, retail shops and restaurants connected to the building by a kind of glass-covered street.
“I think this could complete our comeback…Hope will be created.” — Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores
Officials also vow to use the arena as the anchor for developing a roughly 50 block stretch of vacant land and barren buildings just north of downtown.
Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores moved his team to the arena to join with the Red Wings, bringing the city’s four major sports franchises within walking distance of each other.
He says the arena will be the catalyst for a new era in Detroit.
“I think this could complete our comeback. Hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue are going to be created because of this. Tens of thousands of jobs will be created because of this. Hope will be created,” Gores says.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan added their applause during the grand opening.
Duggan, who is seeking a second term as mayor, calls the arena a tangible symbol of a city that has rebounded from the brink of insolvency.
“Just a few years ago Detroit was on its back. We were in bankruptcy. We were a national embarrassment,” Duggan says. “And here we are, four years later, (and) the city of Detroit is the only city in America where all four major professional sports teams now play in the downtown core. How about that?”
The arena project has not received universal love.
Critics complain that about a third of the cost of the arena will come from bonds funded by taxpayers.
Arena officials have also been under fire for opening the venue with a show next week featuring Metro Detroit native Kid Rock, who has been criticized for conspicuously displaying Confederate flags during some of his performances.