The City of Detroit has just filed the largest municipal bankruptcy in the nation’s history. The filing will test bankruptcy laws, state rights and the Michigan’s State Constitution.
However, Mike Illitch’s plans for a new $650 hockey arena near Comerica Park will likely go unchallenged.
The public money earmarked for the project will likely still be available. The roughly $283 in public money isn’t actually the city of Detroit’s to spend. It was designated by law to the Downtown Development Authority which is a separate legal entity. So it is not a matter of choosing between funding the city’s pension funds or building a new arena. The decision has already been made when the Michigan legislature earmarked the tax money for development.
The new arena must still be approved by City Council and a number of local agencies. If they fail to approve the project, the public money would return to the state.
Something that could be a source of pride for the troubled city could turn into a powder keg of controversy if Detroit’s pensions remain unfunded. Whether or not the Red Wings are willing to proceed with the project remains to be seen. Illitch Holdings has not made comment on the Detroit Bankruptcy filing.
However, fans should expect the project to move forward as planned considering funding for the project has already been secured.