Feb 4, 2013
Little Caesars Pizza owner Mike Ilitch just got a sweetheart deal to build a new stadium complex for his hockey team – even though he owes Detroit tens of millions of dollars in back taxes.
Ilitch’s Olympia Entertainment has been using the Joe Louis Arena rent-free and tax-free since its lease ran out in 2010. The city of Detroit says that amounts to 6 million dollars a year.
In addition, Olympia has NEVER paid Detroit a 25 percent share of cable television rights for live events that have been part of its lease stretching back to 1980. That could add up to 70 million dollars!
And, the city and state are planning on giving Ilitch even more! To fund his planned hockey arena complex, the state just passed a blank check “catalyst development project” – paid for through diverting funds from state and local school taxes. This project could cost upwards of 600 million dollars.
Detroit’s current deficit may be as high as 326 million dollars. The city is closing departments, wiping out services and selling off assets. The public schools are starved of funds and deep in debt.
If Ilitch and other businesses – like GM, Chrysler, the two Detroit newspapers, the Detroit Medical Center, Detroit Axle, Compuware, Quicken Loans, all the real estate speculators, etc. – just paid the taxes and fees they owe, it would more than wipe out that debt: The amount could be more than 800 million dollars!