Bill to propel new arena district for Red Wings awaits Snyder signature after House approval

Crain’s Detroit Business
Chris Gautz
Thursday, December 13, 2012

A vote to begin moving forward with the planned $650 million arena and entertainment district proposed by the Ilitch family was approved Thursday afternoon by a slim margin in the House.

House Bill 5463, sponsored by Rep. John Walsh, R-Livonia, would allow the Detroit Downtown Development Authority to transfer tax revenue that previously had been captured but no longer was needed for its previous purpose and dedicate it toward what is being called a “catalyst development project” to build a new arena for the Detroit Red Wings.

The bill was approved 58-49, with three Detroit Democratic representatives — David Nathan, Harvey Santana and Jimmy Womack — refusing to vote.

A number of other Detroit Democrats voted against the bill — including Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who spoke out against the bill, calling it a tax loophole and a government subsidy.

“We are picking winners and losers here,” she said.

She mentioned the back taxes that Ilitch-owned Olympia Entertainment Inc. owes the city of Detroit and waived the paperwork in her hand as she spoke from the floor.

Walsh said he has spoken with officials from the company and said he has been assured the issue will be resolved.

“It’s a business issue that is being worked through,” he said.

Rep. Shanelle Jackson, D-Detroit, spoke in favor of the bill, saying opportunities to vote for bills that have the ability to help Detroit in this session have been few and far between.

“It’s a yes vote for the future,” Jackson said.

The bill now heads to the governor for his signature.