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MT readers weigh in on arena deal, Conyers, and more

Weekly reader responses.

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COURTESY ILLUSTRATION.
  • Courtesy illustration.
ARENA CHATTER
 
We received numerous responses to Ryan Felton’s May 7 cover story on the new Detroit Red Wings arena and the sweetheart deal the Ilitch organization received:
 
I appreciated your in-depth coverage of the hockey arena deal, but I don’t see why you had to hedge on Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s accusations of backroom dealing. “Tlaib’s assertions, to an extent, bear some truth,” you write. That double layer of qualifiers doesn’t seem warranted, given that state legislators said they spent more time dealing with feral pigs than they did digesting the implications of arena pork. When the first octopus gets tossed onto the ice at the new arena, the public will be the real suckers. —Joel Batterman, Detroit
 
Thanks for the article on the finagling behind the new hockey arena. It certainly is well-researched, but overlooks one key aspect: the acoustics.
 
Joe Louis Arena was financed, in part, via a surtax on concerts. Yet, in the planning of it, there was evidently scant attention paid to the acoustics. This would have been OK had the old Olympia Stadium been saved, which had good acoustics for a building of its size. However, it was torn down. I attended two concerts at “The Joe” — both to see Prince on his Purple Rain tour. While the show I caught in the lower bowl was bearable, the music at the show I saw while in the upper reaches was headache-inducingly atrocious.
 
While I have doubts that any act I’d ever want to see will play at the new arena, I still think that some serious consideration should be given for the music fans who will attend events there. Since the new arena will be even bigger than the Joe Louis Arena, I suspect that the acoustics will be even worse. —Don Handy, Mount Clemens
 
Reader “A.L. Cadillac” posted: 
 
Putting aside the obvious case for development of this area and a new (hopefully better) arena for the Wings, considering the scope of the public contribution ($260 million), it is simply appalling that the city transferred $100 million worth of land for $1, and the permanently disabled first responders are getting their health care taken away. Why has someone not objected to this giveaway in the bankruptcy case and litigated it in front of Judge Rhodes and the public?
 
Reader “Musomi Kimanthi” posted: 
 
The question is at what costs to the city. Taking millions of dollars of tax revenue from a bankrupt city does not make sense. Studies going back to at least 1995 have demonstrated that these big-ticket items, (stadiums and factories) have never delivered the promised benefits. Looking at Detroit specifically we were given the same line for Poletown, Chrysler Jefferson, Joe Louis Arena, Comerica Park, and Ford Field. Where has the city benefited? Where are all of the promised jobs and revenue? Can’t Ilitch and his supporting banks buy the land outright? And pay all of the relevant property taxes? Then it becomes a win-win.
 
In response to that comment, reader “Anyonebutyou” posted:
 
Do you actually read or are you making this stuff up? What would the Foxtown area be like without the Fox Theatre, Comerica Park and Ford Field, without millions of people coming downtown every year to spend their money in the city. Dozens of restaurants and bars have been open or are kept open, now housing, condos and apartments. None of the national studies on stadiums that you cite say that this area didn’t benefit. Also, this didn’t cost the city a dime. No loss of tax revenues. The property they transferred to the project was worth $1 million. Not a bad exchange for a $650 million project that rebuilds 35 acres of crap.
 
In response to “Anyonebutyou,” “Musomi Kimanthi” wrote:
 
The question is, sir, do you read? Again, the point is not the improvement to the given areas. The point is that the claimed benefits to the cities in terms of revenue and jobs never materialize. In fact, the cities incur more debt. Again, look at the previous developments in the city. People are making the same claims for “New Town.” … Taking more property off of the tax rolls is not a solution. I ask: Why can’t Ilitch develop the property and pay taxes?
 
SAYONARA, CONYERS
 
We also received a number of responses to Jack Lessenberry’s column on John Conyers’ recent signature-gathering mishap. Reader “WWtech” posted:
 
Thanks, Jack, for assembling some of the congressman’s groundbreaking accomplishments for our edification. Mr. Conyers has indeed contributed much, and left an indelible mark on the political and social landscape of this country. Having said that, I, too, would rather see him retire with dignity than to remain until age, dementia, scandal or defeat taint his storied tenure.
 
Reader “Semnol” posted:
 
Honoring MLK and Rosa Parks did nothing to serve the people in his district, Jack. You can trace the decline and fall of his constituency’s surroundings to his 50-year nap while Rome burned. 
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