CJR: Media cheers on stadium developments before asking questions


  • Rendering via Olympia Development of Michigan

We missed this when it was published a few weeks back, but Michigan Radio brought it to our attention today: Writing at the Columbia Journalism Review, David Uberti says local news organizations tend to cheer on the announcement of new sports stadiums, before they begin to ask tough questions.

In Detroit's case, Uberti writes, that was the case with the announcement of a new $450 million arena for the Detroit Red Wings near downtown. He says a number of stories here on the arena highlighted "rosy economic numbers" — $1.8 billion in investment — without much thought as to if that would actually materialize. Also, he says, some failed to mention the project will be significantly financed by public tax dollars. 

Says Uberti to Michigan Radio: "Citizens should remain skeptical ... This is, in a lot of cases, a political question: Should a local government subsidize a local business? They have to evaluate by themselves whether that's worth it."

Uberti chatted with the public radio station during an 8-minute segment, which can be heard here

Meanwhile, leading up to the 5 p.m. meeting downtown with Detroit's planning commission, Chris Ilitch of Olympia Development of Michigan talked about the new arena today during the Detroit Homecoming event. The Ilitches have said they've been acquiring land over 15 years for the project. Here's a snippet of what he had to say about the land north of I-75, where the new arena will be located:

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