Bankrupt Detroit Still Building $450 Million Hockey Arena
Detroit on July 18 became the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy protection, but the city still plans to spend more than $400 million of Michigan taxpayer funds to build a new hockey arena for the Detroit Red Wings.
Detroit's budget deficit is believed to be more than $380 million, and Kevyn Orr, the emergency manager appointed to oversee the city's finances, has said long-term debt was more than $14 billion and could be between $17 billion and $20 billion.
But Orr and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder support the arena project.
"I know there's a lot of emotional concern about should we be spending the money," Orr said.
"But frankly that's part of the economic development. We need jobs. If it is as productive as it's supposed to be, that's going to be a boon to the city."
Yet critics of the project say it won't have enough economic impact to justify the cost, and is the "wrong spending priority" for a city in Detroit's woeful shape, CNN Money reported.
About 40 percent of Detroit's streetlights are shut off to save money, more than half of its parks have been closed, and police response time is nearly one hour. Detroit also needs funding to demolish some of the 73,000 abandoned structures in a city where the population has plummeted from nearly 2 million in 1950 to about 700,000 today.
The state Legislature approved funding for the arena in December. The arena will be paid for with a $450 million bond issue to be repaid over 30 years. Taxpayers will be footing nearly two-thirds of the cost, $283 million, and private developers will cover the rest. Including interest, taxpayers are projected to pay $444 million for the arena.
The Joe Louis Arena, where the Red Wings now play, is antiquated by modern arena standards, according to CNN Money.
But state Sen. Gretchen Whitmer said: "There are so many investments that should trump a sports stadium."
She added that if the vote on funding the arena were held today, after the bankruptcy filing, "I wouldn't put my money on it passing."
This is insane, this is exactly why this country is the way it is, people priorities are all wrong...